At the end of last year, figures revealed the strength of the economy across the UK’s regions and, once more, Wales was found languishing at the bottom of the table. Poorer still was the performance of west Wales but is that set to change? First the Office for National Statistics’ figures. It tracks gross value added (GVA), which is how much money is generated by goods produced and services delivered per working person across the UK. The UK average stands at over £24,000 with the figure in Cardiff and Vale falling just below that at over £22,000. In west Wales GVA is only £14,000. However a number of significant developments have been green-lighted this year and collectively they indicate that regeneration in the region may soon be paying dividends.
The vision: Carmarthenshire County Council aims to build on the success of its Beacon Business Centre initiative, a brand new building that provides high spec office and industrial accommodation available to lease. Alongside sits some 12 acres of development land, seven acres of which are currently available. Success has already been achieved with the new Wales Air Ambulance choosing to house their operation facility there.
Scheme strengths: The area of Dafen on the eastern side of Llanelli just 5 minutes’ drive from J48 of the M4, is now well established as a strong strategic location owing to the success of the Llanelli Gate Business Park.
Delta Lakes - Wellness & Wellbeing Village
The vision: The proposed multi-million pound development earmarked for Delta Lakes led by Carmarthenshire Council and forms part of the ARCH (A Regional Collaboration for Health) initiative - a partnership between Swansea University and ABMU and Hywel Dda health boards aiming to bring together health, science and enterprise.
Scheme strengths: The site is well place, adjacent to the coastline and the Coastal Link Road which provides direct access to the M4, and it can capitalise on the region’s emerging life sciences ‘Knowledge Economy’.
Cross Hands East
The vision: Cross Hands East, a dedicated strategic employment site, is forecast to be the next major Employment Zone within Carmarthenshire, covering 19 hectares, with building floor space of around 40,000sqm and with the potential to generate over 1200 jobs.
Scheme strengths: Building on the success of the Cross Hand’s existing Food and Business Zones, the site will attract businesses because of its immediate access to the A48/M4 road network and the upgraded superfast broadband.
Canolfan S4C Yr Egin
The vision: The planned 3,600sqm site Canolfan S4C Yr Egin will be Welsh broadcaster S4C’s new headquarters in Carmarthen with building planned for 2018.
It will provide space for creative industries as well as opportunities for the community to benefit from a café, auditorium and performance stages.
Scheme strengths: Part of the University of Wales Trinity St David's, it is expected to create jobs and contribute more than £11m to the local economy each year.
LSH’s commercial view
Jason Thorne, Director of Industrial Agency at LSH in Wales says:
“It is fantastic to see how much investment is planned for the region and it is clear that the authorities are doing all they can to energise the private sector.
There is a great deal of potential and with the key sites now identified and the public and private sectors working together, then the stage is set for more design and build opportunities to grow.
This has been proven by the success of Parc Pensarn where, for example, earlier this year the developer Bassett MacGregor (BMA SASS) completed its first design and build project which, spanning 6,000 sq ft, was pre-let to Euro Car Parts. At £6 per sq ft, the rental figure was the highest to be achieved in the Carmarthen area since the recession.
It’s certainly encouraging and is a model we hope other investors or developers seeking to build from scratch will look to follow.”