New merged council area ‘could rival Bristol’

The Daily Echo reports the area created by the merged councils of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole could become a powerful rival to the economic and cultural powerhouse of Bristol, a new report claims.

Urban Dorset, the name given to the new authority region by property experts, Savills, will create a district similar to Cardiff in terms of economic output, productivity and jobs, with a population only 14 per cent smaller than Bristol.

“The creation of Urban Dorset provides a major opportunity to reinvigorate the area via strategic planning to deliver a joined-up approach, to use its greater influence as the 12th largest district in England to secure public and private sector funding, and to improve road and rail links to ease movement and allow for economic growth,” said Savills.

The report identified the potential to create what it has termed ‘Silicon Beach’;- an economic hub for the creative and digital industries, with the region already housing the fourth largest concentration of these businesses in the UK.

The report recommended expanding the proposed 5G pilot scheme – which will be the first of its kind nationally – to offer world class digital connectivity across Urban Dorset, attracting further economic investment into what has the potential to be the natural home of tech and creative start-ups in the south of England.

Specifically, Savills highlighted three areas it believes will be unlocked for more workspace via Urban Dorset. Talbot Heath, on the Bournemouth / Poole boundary and adjacent to two universities, was ‘ideally located’ to accommodate the type of space needed by the tech, media and creative sectors, it said.

The second identified area is the airport business park between Bournemouth and Christchurch, which, said Savills, ‘provides an exciting chance to expand and attract new business’.

It’s third pick is new space at Poole Harbour which, it said, ‘will provide the opportunity to elevate BCP’s marine engineering industry to the next level’.

However, the company warns that: “In order to support economic growth and attract new business, Urban Dorset will need to deliver many more homes affordable to local residents across a range of tenure.”

Urban Dorset would need to produce a new Local Plan because, it claimed, alongside the existing local need there will be ‘additional housing requirement driven by the ambition to grow employment.’

Releasing the Green Belt and unlocking brownfield sites would be ‘critical’ in meeting housing need and it said that across the area there was capacity for 11,0000 new homes on a number of brownfield sites.

Commercial research analyst, Clare Bailey said: “BCP is already a prosperous business hub, but it has a chance to really punch above its weight if it successfully delivers new workspaces to attract new companies, particularly those from the tech, engineering and creative industries.

“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 shows there is a build-up of demand already in the market waiting to be unleashed.”

  • Accelerating Dorset's digital economy
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  • Accelerating Dorset's digital economy

  • Silicon South is an ambitious not-for-profit organisation dedicated to accelerating the digital economy in Dorset – one of the fastest growing creative and digital hubs in Europe.

  • We deliver projects, manage investment, nurture new talent, and encourage cross-industry collaboration to make Dorset the best place for digital and creative organisations to thrive.