Cheltenham economic strategy (January 2015)

Cheltenham Borough Council has welcomed a report examining Cheltenham’s role as a business location in order to help shape a robust economic strategy for Cheltenham.

The report, prepared by Athey Consulting Ltd, was commissioned to inform the preparation of an economic strategy for Cheltenham. A key part of the commission was consultation with local businesses to help understand existing needs and future aspirations.

Key findings of the report are that Cheltenham has a healthy economy within a borough where its residents are highly educated and skilled.  However, productivity is lower than expected and focus should be placed upon attracting and supporting businesses which add high value GVA (Gross Value Added) into the economy. The important building blocks are in place in terms of key employers, high levels of innovation, strong retailing and tourism sectors. Work needs to be done to make it clear that Cheltenham continues to be a great place to do business.

The report identifies several priorities for Cheltenham which will now be subject to consideration by the council including:

  • Working with key employers to understand their future needs and site requirements
  • Develop and implement a cyber-security policy initiative – opening up opportunities that exist for local people and businesses to be part of an multi-billion pound global industry;
  • Review the value and use of publicly owned assets and where possible bring these forward to support the economy of the borough;
  • Focus on delivering large scale, high quality offices and business parks together with starter units that will continue to foster innovation; and
  • Investigate ways in which the council can facilitate transformational change, for example developing investment vehicles for delivering land premises, housing and infrastructure.

The Cheltenham economic strategy will be an ambitious long-term plan that builds upon existing strengths, but provides clear direction in terms of interventions by the council and partners. The council is currently reviewing the recommendations made by the consultant’s report and will publish a final economic strategy later this year. This will be supported by the emerging Cheltenham Plan, due for public consultation in June, which will look to identify land and provide planning policy options to support the council’s economic ambitions.