‘Stevenage should be investment priority’ say business leaders at Herts LEP’s A1(M) Growth Area Forum in Letchworth
- Credit: Archant
Stevenage should be the priority for future investment – that was the message from business and community leaders along the A1(M) corridor when they met for the first forum of its kind.
Around 100 representatives from across the area – which covers Baldock, Letchworth, Hitchin and Stevenage, as well as Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield – took part in the debate which was organised by the Herts Local Enterprise Partnership.
Stevenage was voted as the number one area for future investment, with regeneration of its town centre seen as critical to attracting and retaining a highly skilled workforce to service its key sector industries such as advanced manufacturing.
Speaking at the A1(M) Growth Area Forum held at Letchworth’s Spirella Building on Friday, Andrew Stroomer – Stevenage site director at Airbus Defence and Space, said: “The challenge for us is how can we grow the next generation of space engineers in Herts? Thirty eight per cent of our workforce is under 40. They are very mobile with UK graduates and young engineers competing in a European/global market.
“This new generation are more likely to stay with us if Stevenage is an attractive place to live and work.”
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Discussing the growth of London, Barney Stringer, director of planning consultancy Quod, said: “There is a tidal wave of unmet need as London struggles to find the housing it requires. In the A1(M) area alone there is a huge shortfall.”
David Lock from David Lock Associates said one solution would be to build a new garden city in Herts, rather than simply a piecemeal approach.
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He said: “If we don’t plan for growth for our children and grandchildren what is the alternative? A garage at the bottom of the garden?”
Herts LEP Chairman John Gourd highlighted the £48.5m growth deal which will aid regeneration and added: “The outcomes of this debate will help shape our future investment priorities and ensure that this vital corridor reaches its full economic potential.”
After the discussion, delegates were invited to vote on a number of issues affecting growth relating to skills and employment, infrastructure and business innovation.
The outcomes of these discussions will be posted on Hertfordshire LEP’s website at www.hertfordshirelep.com/A1M_Growth_Area_Forum.aspx.