Harris Lamb Blog – 11th April 2011

 


 

Becky Colclough

11th April, 2011.

We want an Enterprise Zone in Stoke!

By Becky Colclough, Commercial Agency.

Joining with other private and public sector companies in the North Staffordshire area, we want to add our voice and support for Stoke on Trent being awarded one of the Enterprise Zones that are due to be announced in the next round of allocations in the early Summer. 

 

The route provides 27 miles of privately funded and operated highway from Coleshill in North Warwickshire to Cannock in South Staffordshire.  The road carried an average 47,592 vehicles on weekdays in the summer of 2010  and from my experience of the Toll Road, private cars form the vast majority of the traffic.

The M6 Toll Road was identified as an “M6 Relief Road” to alleviate congestion on the M6, which is something many people feel has not been adequately addressed and, with one way car tolls at peak periods of £5, this is something to be debated elsewhere.

From a property perspective the benefits have probably been more tangible than the traffic improvements.  The southern end of the Toll Road and the ‘T1’ junction close to J4 M6 coincided with some of the latter stage build projects at the Hams Hall National Distribution Park, a 430 acre business park which ranks as one of the best such employment parks in the UK.

Junctions T2 and T3 appear to largely function as commuter gateways for those living to the south and east of Sutton Coldfield from where national motorway access has improved considerably and the effect on house prices has been positive in these areas.

The access to Junctions T4 and T5 at Weeford and Lichfield has given a stimulus to residential and commercial property markets alike with possibly the biggest winner being the 300 acre Fradley Park, where some of the largest distribution buildings in the area have been built with more to come.  We are marketing the new Fradley Prologis Scheme with 70 acres and units to 700,000 sq ft available to be built and which will be on site shortly.

T6 Burntwood, a forgotten part of the West Midlands conurbation 10 years ago for business and for new build residential perhaps, has not quite been “transformed” but certainly “considerably improved”.

T7 & T8 and the Cannock access points to the Toll Road provided the catalyst that has helped to promote the former coal mining town into a first rate employment location.  Significant development of a cross section of employment type accommodation from offices to manufacturing and warehouse operations has bought vitality to Cannock which I think is largely due to the Toll Road passing the town’s doorstep.

For those drivers who still regularly sit stationary on the M6 between junction 8 and 10 bemoaning the state of the traffic and whether the Toll Road has done the job it promised, the tangible benefits are probably in property as much as traffic counts.  The commercial new build and viability of new schemes along the entire length of the Toll Road has been transformed since the road was built.

The first round of Enterprise Zones in the early 1980’s were somewhat different to what is envisaged this time round.  Whilst the successful transformation of Round Hill Steel Works in Dudley, West Midlands, transformed into the mega retail experience that is Merry Hill, its fair to say some different land uses springing up in the zones is probably needed in 2011.

Our Chamber of Commerce Chairman in North Staffordshire – Bryan Carnes, says that Enterprise Zone status would bring much needed jobs to the area and a united front is needed to pressure government to select North Staffordshire.

With Enterprise Zone status would come an impressive five year exemption from Business Rates up to £275,000, easier planning rules and a superfast broadband infrastructure.

Bryan also said “Businesses with mobile investment will want to be in those places (Enterprise Zones) because they won’t have to pay any rates and planning regulations will be much more accommodating for business”.

With Renew North Staffordshire having lost its funding, my suggestion is, we should push for all canal side property in the Potteries to be granted Enterprise Zone status.

The areas allocated as zones are arbitrary lines on a map, so why not let all canal side property be the test for properties and land in Stoke on Trent’s bid for an Enterprise Zone? We can then let the Private Sector drive some real regeneration with a focus on what is always a winner in property terms – waterside frontage.


If you would like to speak with Becky about any issues raised in her blog, she can be reached on 01782 272 555 or via email: becky.colclough@harrislamb.com.       

Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article or weblog (‘blog’) are the personal views of the contributors and authors only and do not necessarily reflect the views of any named companies or thier employees.