Local media in Bath quite properly concentrates on Bath itself, the global tourist brand and the economic engine for the area. But the district is called Bath and North East Somerset for a good reason and the business community is very conscious of what the whole patch can do if we use all the skills and assets that are available.
Shortage of modern office space in the centre of Bath is a regular refrain of mine, but whilst many companies want to be in the historic centre of the city, there are lots of others who can see the advantages of being out of the hotspot.
They are going to be able to benefit from the Somer Valley Enterprise Park at Paulton House, just outside Midsomer Norton. Managed by Business West, of which our Chamber and Initiative are a part, it will provide 23,000 square feet of quality workspace. Crucially it will offer the sort of “easy in – easy out” flexible lease agreements which they have made available for the last 30 years.
As well as office space, meeting rooms and hot desk facilities, Business West will also be running a full programme of business support to help businesses in the Somer Valley to scale-up and grow. With ample free parking and few traffic problems, it sounds like a great offer.
This is a tremendous project because it will provide a major injection of energy into the economy around Midsomer Norton. It will doubtless be of great interest to local companies who are ready to take the next step in their development. But I hope it will also be on the radar of businesses who currently operate in the centre of Bath and who are looking for new premises.
To my mind, it would be much more preferable for the local economy if they did that rather than upping sticks and taking themselves off to Bristol or even further afield.
This kind of Enterprise Park could be replicated elsewhere in North East Somerset, which has the advantage of the kind of space that Bath itself no longer possesses and which would be suitable for other, non office based businesses, such as manufacturing and distribution.
We need a balanced economy which provides employment opportunities for the whole community so we must make the most of both Bath and of North East Somerset. Together they will be a winning combination.