A £100 million plus investment plan led by Braintree District Council for the benefit of residents and businesses in the district has been announced.
Council leader Cllr Graham Butland made the announcement to an audience of the district’s businesses and partners at an event at Braintree Town Hall.
During the event it was revealed that Braintree District Council has now exchanged contracts to buy a 65-acre site in Great Notley which will be the location for a brand new business and innovation park called Horizon 120.
The council’s vision for the business and innovation park is to create an exemplar business community attractive to a number of sectors including professional services companies, research, digital and development sectors and advanced manufacturing. The site is likely to be of particular interest to companies working with Stansted Airport.
The project team has already had a whole host of prestigious names enquiring about being part of this new park and the council predicts that the site could create up to 2,000 jobs.
Cllr Tom Cunningham, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Braintree District Council, said: “The level of interest in the site has exceeded even the highest of our expectations. We are attracting businesses from outside the district to invest in Braintree and we have big ambitions for this site. We want it to become the place to do business in the region. It’ll be modern and reflect the changing face of business and it’ll be future-proof hence the name Horizon 120.
“Our vision for Horizon 120 is of a real business community where employees can have a drink, drop children off at childcare and enjoy a lunchtime run in the beautiful Great Notley Country Park. We want more jobs and opportunities for everyone who lives and works in our district. Horizon 120 will mean that residents have better access to skilled jobs in a great setting close to home.”
The announcement also comes as one of the council’s investments has been completed successfully. Four up-and-coming businesses are set to expand further after Braintree District Council invested £1 million in new “grow-on” units, addressing a challenge identified by businesses wanting to expand but not being able to find appropriate sized units privately in the district.
Building work on the industrial units at Braintree Enterprise Centre at Springwood Drive in Braintree started in January 2018 and was completed in September. A 40 space car park has also been built to provide more parking for the conferencing facilities at the Braintree Enterprise Centre, which can be hired by businesses across the region. The units have been described as a “lifeline” by businesses ready to use them.
Cllr John Mckee, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Asset Management at Braintree District Council, said: “This is where councils can really add value. We saw a barrier to growth that wasn’t being fulfilled in the private sector and our investment has paid off. Businesses told us that they couldn’t get this sort of commercial space which stalled any plans they had to expand. When that happens it means our residents have fewer opportunities to get on into good jobs and careers. We wish the four businesses renting these units all the best for a very bright future.”
Among the businesses relocating are Kemtron Limited which manufacturers electromagnetic interference shielding components and MDG Limited a specialist sub-contractor in the construction industry.
Victoria Tsoi, Managing Director at Kemtron Limited, said: “These units have been a lifeline to our business because we’ve been looking to expand for quite some time but have not been able to find a suitably-sized unit locally. We are an expanding company and have a growing workforce. Our product range is developing and we need more space to allow us to continue to develop locally in Braintree. It’s important for us to stay in Braintree because we have a workforce of 44 people, most of who live close by. Our business is more than ready to expand and these units have made it possible.”
Matt Giles, Managing Director at MDG Limited, said: “We started the business in Braintree in 2007 because we live in the area and since then we’ve built up the business and we now have customers in Essex and London. We wanted to move to a bigger premises – but when you look on the private market the units are far too big so these midway units are perfect. “We have been fortunate enough to find this unit which will enable our business to continue to offer the service we do to our existing customers and hopefully create more opportunities for local people.”
Simon Giles, Construction Director at MDG Limited, said: “It will give us a new blank canvas – a new space to show off what we do and what we can offer clients and it give us a good opportunity to grow our business.”
These four units will bring in around £44,000 income annually for Braintree District Council which will be ploughed back into the council’s frontline services.
The other projects making up the £100million plus investment are:
- The Manor Street regeneration in Braintree- New health facilities, 35 homes, a new and modernised bus interchange with nine stands compared to five, a new 70 bed hotel and a café overlooking a community garden, all of which will increase footfall in the town centre. If planning permission is granted the development could be completed during 2021. The project is currently awaiting a decision on its submitted planning application.
- Improvements to Galleys Corner in Braintree via Millennium Way Slip Roads. Our investment opened the door to further investment from Essex County Council, Highways England and the National Productivity Investment Fund to make this project happen.
- An Enterprise Centrein Witham and a rural business hub in Sible Hedingham to support local businesses start-up and develop.
- A multimillion pound project to deliver 200 homesacross the district (Braintree, Witham and Halstead) on council owned-land which will mean more homes of the type the district needs.
- I-CONTRUCT – the creation of a Construction Research and Innovation Centre – which will showcase excellence in the construction industry attracting investors, developers and innovators. This exciting hub will serve the entire South East and it will become the place to celebrate new and innovative construction ideas, techniques and technologies.
- A new and improved healthcare facilityin Sible Hedingham.
The investment strategy is part of the council’s plan to become financially independent by 2019/20 when central government withdraws its funding from local authorities.
Cllr Graham Butland said: “We’re investing in what matters to our residents: health and homes, journeys and jobs. This investment has a double benefit for residents – once by the investment itself and secondly by the return on investment which will be spent on council services. It also means that we are playing our part in preparing for our growing district making sure that we have the right foundations in place to support that growth. Our investments are unlocking more from partners and private sector too and that adds up to better health care facilities, better homes, improvements to the way we get around the district and more jobs.”