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Connectivity will be critical to delivering housing growth

Wednesday, 08 February 2017

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Infrastructure and connectivity is going to have a huge impact on how the West of England delivers the new housing required to support economic development. A new report launched today by Bristol property adviser GVA outlines how the electrification of the Great Western Mainline will be a key driver of economic growth, unlocking significant change and development.

GVA’s report, “Great Western Electrification: Unlocking future growth” launched today at a breakfast event in Bristol entitled Evolving Bristol, takes an indepth look at the opportunities being opened up by infrastructure investment and the importance it will play in the continued evolution of Bristol and the South West region.

Over 200 guests from businesses in the South West heard from invited speakers and GVA specialists on the opportunities and challenges that are facing the city and South West region in 2017 particularly when it comes to delivering growth.

Jo Davis, Regional Senior Director at GVA talked about how infrastructure and connectivity is going to have a huge impact on how the city moves forward.

“The electrification of the Great Western Mainline will be a key driver of economic growth and the redevelopment of and around Bristol Temple Meads station will be a game-changer,” she told the audience. “It will unlock significant change and development at Enterprise Zones and commercial hubs around Bristol, Bath, Swindon and Chippenham. Yet this all needs to be considered in the context of housing growth forecasts for the region. With the West of England considering a target to provide 85,000 new homes over the next Local Plan, connectivity and accessibility are critical to delivering housing that supports economic development in a sustainable way.”

The report highlights that improvements in capacity and accessibility to new or improved stations will not only support a burgeoning commuter market across the route, but also encourage job creation. New locations for residential development will be needed to support this growth in employment and it is critical to begin planning for change now.

Re-opened rural railway stations at places such as Saltford, Royal Wootton Bassett, Wilton and Corsham provide important opportunities to consider as locations for sustainable, long-term residential growth. Other locations that will be increasingly connected to the Great Western Mainline corridor through new stations or capacity improvements such as Portishead, Cirencester and Long Ashton would also support a mix of uses with new floorspace for businesses.

GVA welcomed two guest speakers to the Evolving Bristol event, Mr Barra Mac Ruairi, Strategic Director of Place at Bristol City Council, and Dr Jo Michell, senior lecturer economics at UWE.

Speaking about the wider economy and prospects for growth in Bristol, Mr Mac Ruairi said, “Bristol is well placed to maintain our economic momentum as we proceed towards Brexit. We are a resilient city and our productivity continues to outperform, in fact we have the highest employment rate of any UK Core City. However, we should not take these strengths for granted; as a city we need to address the issues that saw the UK vote to leave the EU. We need to ensure that our growth is inclusive and not exclusive. We need to collaborate to compete, and through devolution, and any other means, continue to press Government for the best possible support for our city region.”

Dr Jo Michell, Senior Lecturer Economics at UWE, supported this view, “Bristol is close to the top of the table when it comes to productivity compared to other city regions in the UK, and we’re above the UK average. However, alongside a dynamic, broad based economy, and strong educational levels second only to London, Bristol also has a wide poverty gap which cannot be ignored as we move forward in an uncertain, post-Brexit economy.”

For more information on the report, please contact Jo Davis, Regional Senior Director at GVA on 0117 988 5224 / Jo.Davis@gva.co.uk

View the report here.