Strong interest in Bath’s Innovation Quay scheme as it is showcased to global property developers

March 12, 2014

Bath’s pioneering Innovation Quay area has been showcased to potential developers and investors at the world’s largest commercial property industry gathering.

The 6.5-acre site which straddles the River Avon west of Churchill Bridge, is allowing the city to promote itself as a centre for innovation capable of attracting businesses in the creative and hi-tech sectors.

It is the first time that Bath has been able to compete with major international cities at MIPIM, the annual international property investment conference held in the South of France, to attract inward investment.

Bath & North East Somerset Council leader Paul Crossley, who is at MIPIM as part of the West of England delegation, today told Bath Business News that response to Bath's proposals had been very encouraging.

Innovation Quay (formerly North Quay and South Quay) was unveiled to the international property sector at a presentation yesterday and today was further promoted at briefing events which showcased the Bath City Riverside Enterprise Area and other projects around Bath.

"We have got a range of potential sites around the city that we are promoting," said cllr Crossley. "We have had excellent feedback and we following up a number of leads.

"Although we have had small development areas in the past few years we have never had anything on this scale to promote and we are getting a good response. A number of developers and investors are looking at a range of options and discussions will continue."

He said being able to offer modern office buildings to creative and tech firms was also vital for Bath, particularly in microchip design – an industry in which Bath is now recognised as a world-leading hub.

"These sectors employ more people in Bath than tourism and retail put together," he said. "It is essential we continue to grow, development and attract busineses in them."

Bath's property figures are calling Innovation Quay a once-in-a-generation opportunity for a city that has traditionally been off-limits to most property developers due to a severe lack of sites.

Innovation Quay also ties in with Bath’s ambitions to be seen as a ‘city of ideas’ – a test bed for innovation in new, low-carbon and ‘smart’ technologies.

The development could create 2,500 jobs and provide a £100m boost to the local economy. It could be open for business by 2019.

Cllr Crossley said other schemes around the city, such as the redevelopment of the Guildhall and the cattle market site, showed that Bath was a city that welcomed development.

After promoting Innovation Quay yesterday at MIPIM, the focus today turned to wider development opportunities in Bristol and Bath and how the cities intend to use £1bn of Government funding to transform their economies.

Invest Bristol & Bath, the area’s investment promotion agency, was today hosting an event, Developing the region – the £1bn opportunity for Bristol & Bath, facilitated by global built asset consultancy EC Harris.

It included a panel debate with Colin Skellett, chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Paul Marsh, head of projects at UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), Paul Crossley, leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, Steve Evans, director of environment and community services at South Gloucestershire Council, and David Turner, strategic director of place-based services at at North Somerset Council.

They will discuss what the region is doing to handle the increase in economic growth from an infrastructure perspective and what schemes the region can progress quickly.

EC Harris South West managing partner Richard Bonner said: “This is an excellent opportunity to show how the Bristol and Bath region is taking the smart approach to the Government’s regeneration policy.

“All the key ingredients for success can be found in the region, including effective leadership, targeted investment in infrastructure and innovative approaches to project funding. 

“This event will showcase how to make private and public sector funding work together.”

Negotiations are now underway with the Government to complete a package of funding with a value to the region of at least £1bn. The MIPIM event will demonstrate how the LEP intends to use this and how the private sector can influence investment decisions and maximise leverage from it.

The region has already secured an anticipated £500m through the Bristol & West of England City Deal, which allows the region to retain the increase in business rates in Bristol's Temple Quay Enterprise Zone and its enterprise areas, including the Bath City Riverside Enterprise Area, which has the capacity to create up to 9,000 jobs and 3,600 new homes. Innovation Quay will be its centrepiece offering approximately 200,000 sq ft of modern work space as part of its aspiration to create a new Innovation Campus.

Ambitions plans to secure funding with an indicative programme worth £540m are being put forward by the LEP as part of its Strategic Economic Plan, and will compete for a share of the Government’s £2bn a year Local Growth Fund. Some £59m has also been secured from the EU Structural Investment Fund.

LEP chair Colin Skellett said: “Through our Strategic Economic Plan we have identified a programme that addresses market failures and includes some significant investment opportunities, including projects to realise new technologies in quantum computing, robotics and renewable energy, and further development of our key assets, such as Engine Shed, Bristol & Bath Science Park, the National Composites Centre and our world-class advance engineering and aerospace offer.

“We have the strongest-performing region outside London with the strongest property market and we are one of Europe’s prime city regions. This event will be an opportunity for investors to find out more about the proposed projects and see how they can get involved.”

Invest Bristol & Bath is representing the region at MIPIM and is responsible for attracting investment to Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and Gloucestershire. The agency is part of the West of England LEP.

MIPIM, staged annually in Cannes, brings together the most senior players in international property development and investment and acts as a showcase for business and development opportunities across the world.

It offers a unique opportunity to find out more about the proposed development projects on the table and how investors can get involved.

Invest in Bristol & Bath is also showcasing the region’s world-class industry clusters, deep talent pool, global transport links and quality of life which combine to make it one of the strongest performing city regions, according to research by think tank Centre for Cities.

The agency, which is part of the LEP, will be talking to investors and developers about how they can work with the regional authorities to make the most of the unique levels of public sector investment.

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