Coventry could be a trailblazer to resolve the shortage of employment land and create a better balance of all types of employment provision.
The Coventry & Warwickshire Sub-Regional Employment Market Signals Study has been published following a 12-month high-level study into the latest trends and changes across the sub-regional market.
The report points to the tremendous growth and success of the commercial property market in the sub-region.
However, it demonstrates that as a consequence of the success, commercial land prices and rents have risen to unprecedented high levels and created sectoral shortages.
Consultants BBP Regeneration and Hardisty Jones were commissioned by Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) and several other local Councils to analyse and assess the market for employment land within the Coventry and Warwickshire sub-region.
One of the recommendations of the study is to adopt an approach which requires housebuilders to create affordable social housing as part of their developments – identifying a fixed level of “affordable” employment land.
Cllr Peter Butlin, of Warwickshire County Council, Chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Planning & Housing Business Group and CWLEP Board Director, said an innovative approach was needed to resolve the dwindling amount of employment land and also to address the “affordability” of much of the land and property available.
He said: “This detailed report highlights a wide spectrum of possible interventions which could help prevent the shortage of flexible employment land becoming a real problem for start-ups and SMEs as well as attracting inward investors.
“This would have a detrimental effect on the local economy and our ability to meet the demand of future property requirements in Coventry and Warwickshire.
“The conclusions of the report lays down a challenge to the public sector if we want to have a balanced market which caters for all employment types and sectors.
“We could adopt a similar approach to social housing in the world of commercial land when local authorities and councils have a policy that requires on some types of scheme insert a condition that large-scale development on land they are selling must include a percentage of smaller units of less than 5,000 sq ft to make sites more accessible and encourage growth.”
Bill Blincoe, Planning and Development Adviser at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) and CWLEP Growth Hub, said this was the most comprehensive and up-to-date report carried out on Employment Market Intelligence in Coventry and Warwickshire and it was vital it was acted upon.
“The CWLEP will be discussing the report with the leaders and senior management teams at the local authorities and district and borough councils to discuss follow up to the report and encourage partnership working,” he said.
“We have an acute shortage of premises particularly those available for SMEs which, if it continues the report warns that this, will hold back Coventry and Warwickshire’s economy in the future because we will not be developing a pipeline of growing companies to help drive our area forward.
“The CWLEP wants to broker a solution that may be seen by some as radical but there is a feeling we simply cannot continue with traditional models where we rely on market forces to determine all types of employment land provision, we want to be innovative and look at new ideas that can be implemented to help bring greater balance to provision.”
The report was commissioned jointly by Coventry City Council, North Warwickshire Borough Council, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, Rugby Borough Council, Stratford-upon-Avon District Council and Warwick District Council along with Warwickshire County Council and the CWLEP.
The report was compiled following extensive market research and fact-gathering and also draws on a programme of interviews to obtain views from both the public and private sectors.