Economic Development

Uttlesford has huge unrealised economic potential. Instead of working to make the district a dynamic hub for development, the Conservatives have been happy for it to transform from a thriving agro-industrial economy into a gentrified commuter dormitory. Labour believes that Uttlesford has failed to capitalise on the district’s significant economic strengths and offer to investors. The multi-modal transport hub around Stansted Airport – the Eastern region’s biggest single employment site – has been ignored by UDC. As a result, residents put up with the downsides – air and noise pollution and congestion – but fail to share in the economic growth it provides. Neighbouring districts such as Harlow have benefitted more than our district. Labour proposes a radically different approach – we want to establish a Stansted Airport Enterprise Zone that will focus on transportation, engineering, logistics, warehousing, hospitality and technology, which are the biggest growth areas in the British economy.

Uttlesford offers a major advantage as an economic location with a skilled and diverse workforce. Stansted Airport provides international connections, while the road and rail networks connect it to London, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Harlow, Colchester, Harwich and Felixstowe. It is the heart of an international gateway.

The Airport continues to grow, with a rolling annual total of 28.27 million passengers for the 12 months to the end of February 2019 representing a 8.6% increase on the previous year. London Stansted Airport handled 19,477 tonnes of air cargo throughput during February, a rise of 2.1%. As part of its £600 million investment programme, Stansted Airport is building a new £130 million arrivals terminal, in addition to the £200 million revamp of its existing terminal building.

The Airport is a key attractor to international businesses and the airport continues to work to attract long haul flights. Developing these routes will be an important factor for a range of economic sectors in the London-Stansted-Cambridge corridor. The airport also plays an important role in delivering short haul flights which connect businesses in growth sectors with major European markets and European Hubs to worldwide connections.

Due to a lack of enthusiasm for economic development, Conservative-run Uttlesford has so far failed to make the most of its access to markets and unlocking the multiplier effects of massive investment in our district. Yet, the success of proposed garden communities in Easton Park and West of Braintree will depend on leveraging Stansted Airport’s economic strengths. With 40% affordable housing in these new settlements, many new residents will need a range of employment opportunities that Stansted Airport provides.

Other councils are already making the most out of Stansted Airport. Harlow’s establishment of an enterprise zone to exploit Stansted’s potential has seen its business stock grow from 2,060 in 2010 to 2,750 in 2016 at a growth rate almost twice the national average. As part of its £100 million investment programme, in November 2018 Braintree District Council 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, which is oriented towards companies working with Stansted Airport. Sectors targeted include professional services companies, research, digital and development sectors and advanced manufacturing.

Labour believes that Uttlesford should emulate the success of neighbouring councils in order to enhance the growth opportunities provided by the airport. We advocate Enterprise Zone status around Stansted Airport and would seek a development partner with experience in airport-related sectors. The development of a Stansted Airport Enterprise Zone would augment business at Chesterford Research Park, the Harlow Enterprise Zone and similar airport-related business initiatives, thereby strengthening the London-Stansted corridor as an investment destination. The zone would draw on the skills developed by Stansted Airport College, in which Uttlesford District Council has already invested £300,000.

There will be many supply chain, supporting services and follow-on opportunities from the Enterprise Zone and Chesterford Research Park. The enterprise zone would seek to attract business through business rate relief and co-investment with Labour’s proposed strategic investment fund, as set out in our Finance section. A venture capital investment scheme and the development of co-working spaces could support local entrepreneurs.

By integrating the college with the enterprise zone, we would ensure that local employers can access the skills they need and that local residents can benefit. The college could work with businesses in the enterprise zone to identify growth sectors and support them by closing skills gaps.

We need to ensure that the garden communities benefit from the economic prosperity generated by our businesses. With the opportunity to provide a high-quality location for businesses and residents, Uttlesford can deliver high quality homes, communities and business locations through the creation of the garden communities.

Uttlesford Labour will create a Stansted Airport Enterprise Zone by emulating the successful policies pursued by the Harlow Enterprise Zone, including:

  • Business rates relief for eligible target-sector companies. Businesses that occupy property in the zone would be eligible for a discretionary relief of up to 100% of the business rates payable, up to a limit of £55,000 per year and a maximum of £275,000 in any five-year period subject to meeting the criteria.
  • Simplified planning, using Local Development Orders for specific sites within the zone. These enable planning permission to be granted for specific development that supports the objectives of the enterprise zone and meets planning conditions. The simplification of the planning process will reduce delay, reduce business costs and provide certainty in order to stimulate investment.
  • Improved site connectivity through new and improved infrastructure, which is the fundamental component to enterprise growth. We welcome the plans for improvement work on the congested Junction 8 of the M11 and the A120/A1250 Dunmow Road roundabout. However, more capacity is needed on the Greater Anglia line and the M11 and A120 need further improvements to address bottlenecks. Access to superfast broadband throughout the district is also essential for economic growth and inward investment.
  • Our investment strategy would support start-ups in the zone through venture capital investment. See Finance. Co-working spaces would be created in the zone to support new businesses.
  • Inward investment campaign promoting the Uttlesford offer to business, regionally, nationally and internationally.
  • Business support, networking and supply chain development opportunities within the target sectors.

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