Commercial strategy is council winner

A council is looking to build more industrial premises in Newmarket after filling all 22 of its existing units.

Not only has Forest Heath’s new commercial approach created jobs across the district it has also halved the number of its empty industrial units in just a year.

And In Newmarket the council is exploring options to build more industrial units in Depot Road.

The authority’s strategy, to sell a small number of units in Mildenhall and Brandon, while also investing money to bring other empty properties back into use, has seen the number of empty industrial units it owns tumble from 40 a year ago, to 18 with just six of these sold.

It is estimated that so far the project has created around 40 new jobs.

Cllr David Bowman, Forest Heath portfolio holder for economic development said: “We are aware of businesses that want to move into our industrial units.

“We have been pushing to make sure that those that fell into disrepair in the past, for whatever reason, are brought back up to scratch and are re-let.

“Not only that, we are also using the money from the sales of some of these units, to create new industrial business premises in locations where we know the demand is high.”

The council owns a stock of 107 industrial units, many of which date back to the 1960s and 1970s. It raised £207,000 from the sale of six units in Wimbledon Avenue, in Brandon, money which has been ring fenced to reinvest into future economic development.

At the same time, during the past year, the council has invested close to £90,000 in its industrial units across Forest Heath.

In Mildenhall it owns 50 units of which eight are currently empty. Five of these, in Gregory Road, are due to undergo refurbishment including work to combine smaller units into larger business premises, as well as the installation of new roofs and frontages.

A further two units in the town are in the process of being let while another in Hampstead Avenue, is being sold.

Council leader James Waters said: “As a council we are acting more commercially to cater for our supply and demand. We know of firms that need industrial premises to expand.

“Our work will help them creating new jobs and benefitting our economy. And it also means that we will receive more rental income and business rates, which will allow us to further invest in growing our local economy.

“It is a win win scenario.”