Coventry and Warwickshire companies are close to running out of space to grow – and the shortage is becoming critical, according to a regional expert.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce is running a year-long Go For Growth campaign to highlight barriers to business expansion in the region as well as shine a light on those firms who are growing.
The latest phase of the campaign is looking at issues around commercial property and David Penn, a property expert and board member at the Chamber, said the problem is becoming more acute.
He said: “There is simply not enough employment land being brought forward. Full stop. It means that plans for growth, change and investment for SMEs and major employers are being severely hampered.
“The consensus is that the West Midlands has a one year supply for warehousing and industrial space and that the situation in Coventry and Warwickshire is even more acute.
“There’s also plenty of demand for office space but very little development – available space was halved between 2011 and 2015.”
David, a Partner at Bromwich Hardy, said recent figures from the Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey, provided evidence for the shortage.
He said: “Nearly one in five of the companies surveyed require new or additional space and half of those are looking for offices.
“Three quarters of the companies wanting extra space say they will need it in the next two years and just one in 20 firms overall have existing surplus space.
“We have a thriving and rapidly expanding tech community, a positive trade balance with China and yet there is virtually no allocation for new R&D space – this is an area where we can be a truly world class centre with the skills we have and the two universities.
“In a nutshell, we want businesses to grow, we need businesses to grow and we are encouraging businesses to grow but without the space to move into, it cannot happen – the situation is becoming critical.”
David has written to the Planning Inspector ahead of Coventry’s Local Plan Public Examination and has also met with business and civic leaders across the city and the county to discuss the dire need for more employment space.
Among his recommendations are expanding key employment areas such as Ansty and Ryton, growth in employment land around Junction 3 of the M6, the final and complete approval for the Coventry & Warwickshire Gateway Scheme and a comprehensive review of office sites across the region to support economic growth.
Another proposal is to create a new Outer Ring Road for Coventry on the south-east, south-west and north-west sides of the city from the A46/A45 in the south round towards the A45 at Eastern Green and then on towards the M6 at Corley Services.
He added: “We have an issue around companies already based here not being able to expand but also if we are to attract a significant employer wanting to come to the region, where would they go right now?
“Urgent action is required to ensure we provide the space that business needs to be able to expand, take on new staff and grow our economy.”