Dorset hopes to compete with Bristol and Southampton on business or Property Development terms by combining three of its borough councils next April.
The future merger of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole councils into a single unitary authority known as ‘Urban Dorset’. They could create a flourishing economy, according to research by Savills.
Residential Property Development Hotspot
Research analyst Lucy Greenwood said:” We expect Urban Dorset will need to produce a new local plan when it becomes a new unitary authority. To grow employment there will be additional housing requirement driven by the ambition alongside the existing local need. Both releasing green belt and unlocking brownfield sites will be critical to meeting housing need.”
She added that across the three boroughs there were a number of brownfield sites with 11,000 homes.
“The high costs of property redevelopment has previously constrained affordable housing provisions. The local enterprise partnership aims to secure a government affordable housing deal worth £215 million for Dorset. Above all the new local authority framework has supported this also.”
Bringing the three boroughs under the control of one authority creates a district similar to Cardiff in terms of economic output, productivity and jobs. It has population of 394,000 – only 14% smaller than Bristol.
Savills’ report Spotlight: The New Urban Dorset claims the new authority will be in a strong position. It will be 12th largest district in England to secure public and private funding to improve road and rail links.
Commercial investment property set to take off
The report identified the potential to create an economic hub for the creative and digital industries. The region is already housing the fourth largest concentration of these businesses in the UK. It recommended expanding the proposed 5G pilot scheme. It will offer powerful digital connectivity to foster tech and creative start ups in the region.
Savills identified Talbot Heath, Bournemouth and Christchurch as ideally located to attract new space for tech, media and creative companies. The first location’s closeness to two universities and the airport business park between Bournemouth and Christchurch were highlighted as spots to attract new business. The report added that new space at Poole Harbour would be attractive for the area’s marine engineering industry.
Commercial research analyst Clare Bailey said: “Lansdowne, Talbot Village, the airport business park and Poole Harbour in particular are all zones that are ripe for growth if more offices and incubator space can be provided. The speed at which new office space in Lansdowne has already been pre-let this year. This shows that there is a build-up of demand already in the market waiting to be unleashed.”
The local environment plan wants the value of the region’s economy of production of goods and services to increase by 50 per cent by 2038 and create 80,000 additional jobs.
House prices in the area are currently between nine and 12 times the average in contrast with regional earnings, compared to the national average of eight. Savills said only 15 per cent of housing stock is within the reach of the average earner. Therefore the more residential property development of ‘affordable homes’ would be crucial.
Annual building statistics are running at 48 per cent under the Government’s housing need goal of 2,160 homes per year for the region, according to Savills.