Local Growth Minister Kris Hopkins has announced that £23 million of essential infrastructure investment will bring more jobs to Bristol, Manchester, Great Yarmouth and Leicestershire as part of the government’s long-term economic plan.
The new money will be used to fund essential road, utility line and building construction vital for increasing business opportunities at Enterprise Zone sites.
Kris Hopkins said, “Enterprise zones are showing that our long term economic plan to secure a better future is spreading businesses, jobs and skills training across the country. Today’s cash injection will give four zones the raw ingredients to make their sites a stronger, more competitive business environment that will attract new jobs for hardworking local people.”
Kris Hopkins announced the money on a visit to the MIRA Technology Park Enterprise Zone in Leicestershire to see how Enterprise Zone status is transforming what was once a small former government funded research centre, into Europe’s most advanced transport technology facility, which is expected to employ more than 2,500 by 2021.
This infrastructure investment will fund four different enterprise zones. The Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone was awarded £6 million for commercial development in and around the new city centre. The MIRA Technology Park Enterprise Zone, which was awarded £7.4 million for the construction of a new spine and distribution roads with a roundabout to increase access to the Hinckley site.
In addition, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone has been awarded £3 million to deliver 5,700 square meters of speculative office and industrial units, as well as roads and utilities for Beacon Park, Great Yarmouth. Also, Manchester Enterprise Zone was awarded £6 million to open up key sites to attract companies in the healthcare and medical technology sectors.
Today, as a UK Enterprise Zone, the MIRA Technology Park provides employment for more than 800 within the MIRA organisation and the 30 transport-related companies from around the World. Employment numbers are continuing to increase year on year and forecasts indicate this will exceed 2500 by 2021.
Bristol’s enterprise zone has already encouraged 80 companies to move into the area, in new developments such as the Engine Shed, Temple Studios, the expansion of Paintworks and the office development at 2 Glass Wharf. There are several other sites ready for new development. The money will enable the redevelopment of additional underused and derelict landscapes and encourage further businesses to open in the area.
Geoff Gollop, Deputy Mayor of Bristol has said on the matter, “This £6 million government capital funding for the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone is in response to a specific request to the government and is extremely good news. It is yet another example of Bristol being recognised nationally as making solid progress with its regeneration plans. This particular funding will enable us to bring forward development and jobs in the Enterprise Zone, which in turn will bring further investment to the city.”
The funding is the remaining part of a £550 million package of support for Enterprise Zones to complete critical infrastructure, with an aim of turning sites into prime economic land.
Since their start 3 years ago Enterprise Zones have created over 9,000 jobs, attracted over 300 businesses and secured £1.2 billion of private sector investment.
Enterprise zones have been a debatable issue; some experts believe they are very helpful to business. As lots of local authorities are adjusting budgets to come into line with austerity and central government emphasising the need for localism and more transparency from councils, it is suggested that Enterprise Zones provide great assistance.
However, some experts have suggested that businesses could move to the zones, attracted by favourable rates, to the detriment of other local authorities. Also, the National Audit Office said recently that local growth schemes, including Enterprise Zones, had been slow to create jobs and yet to demonstrate they were capable of achieving value for money.
What are the productive aspects of urban development and enterprise zones?