Commercial Workspace Study

The Commercial Workspace Study has been commissioned to provide insight into the supply and demand for commercial workspace in Uttlesford from 2015 to 2020.

Commercial Workspace Study 2015

The objectives of the study were to:

Identify the existing and potential demand in commercial workspace from:

  • Uttlesford based businesses
  • Sectors that the District could attract or attract more of

Identify any existing and forecast gaps in the supply of commercial workspace and where any gaps exist identify and evaluate options for filling them within the District."

Study findings

1. Uttlesford is a relatively affluent, reasonably skilled area.  The community is characterised by families in the middle stages of the life cycles, with a high proportion of 45-64 year olds and school age children. The workforce population of Uttlesford is employed in small to medium enterprises, with the main exception being Stansted Airport. Key employment sectors are professional, scientific and technical services and construction.

2. The employment and business registration data reveals that, while the population of the District has grown strongly in recent years, employment and business numbers have remained relatively stagnant. This implies an increase in the need for out-commuting for local residents to access employment.

3. The study has found that employment stock in Uttlesford is generally of a small to medium scale and tightly held. There is very limited workplace stock currently being marketed, with a particular shortage of industrial space. The local economy is characterised by small to medium enterprises servicing the needs of the local market. Businesses had only limited economic connections to the wider regional or national economies. The exceptions to this are Stansted Airport and businesses associated with this hub and the research firms within Chesterford Research Park and its relationship with the Cambridge life sciences cluster.

4. The consultation with the local commercial agents corroborated the findings of a tight commercial market. Agents were generally of the view that further stock in Uttlesford is required to meet market demands and that growth was being constrained due to a lack of supply. The industrial markets in Saffron Walden and Great Dunmow were considered particularly tight.

5. Surveying the local businesses found a high level of satisfaction with their existing premises, despite the tight market which often forces businesses into substandard premises. Those businesses that did express a desire to relocate had reported difficulties in finding adequate premises.

6. There are some significant projects that have been approved in Uttlesford, including TriSail Towers, Ashdon Road Commercial Centre and Mantle Estates at Great Dunmow, which if developed would increase choice and capacity in the market. There are further options outside the District, such as at Braintree, Bishop's Stortford, Harlow and Haverhill that can accommodate larger businesses than can be accommodated in Uttlesford.

Recommendations

1. Drawing upon and updating the analysis of the Employment Land Review (2011), this study has found that the most pressing concern in regards to further workspace coming available is not the lack of supply of employment land but rather the delivery of approved employment projects in a timely manner. It is recommended that Uttlesford Council strongly encourage the development of approved stock at the earliest possible juncture to alleviate the existing tightness in the market.

2. The approved but as yet undeveloped Ashdon Road Commercial Centre and Mantle Estates development at Great Dunmow should provide for the short-term employment space needs of Saffron Walden and Great Dunmow respectively, if developed in the near term. Further stock is likely to be required that would become available to the market in the medium term to meet further needs of these towns.

3. It is recommended that Council continues with the policy outlined in the Draft Local Plan in regards to the restrictions upon non-aviation uses on Stansted Airport Land. That is, the North Side commercial area should have the restrictions relaxed to enable a wider range of regional operators to locate close to the airport, but the restrictions remain in place elsewhere on airport land.

4. It is not recommended that further dedicated research space be developed outside of the Chesterford Research Park site. It is considered that this site is well positioned for such operators wishing to locate to Uttlesford and that there is sufficient capacity in this location to cater for future needs for the foreseeable future.

5. Start-up space is recommended for Saffron Walden and Stansted Mountfitchet. It is recommended that Uttlesford District Council enter into a partnership with Invest Essex to deliver their Enterprise Centres at these two locations.

The report

A copy of the full report can be found below.

Icon for pdf Commercial Workspace Study (BE Group, June 2015) [1.17MB]