Only last week, we held an online forum for businesses across the country to hear about some of the work that we are doing. Over 50 businesses registered to join us on the Real Estate Live channel to hear about the fantastic business and economic opportunities that exist in the district.

This is all part of our inward investment strategy. This year, we launched the 'Invest Chichester' website, which aims to provide information and support to those businesses who may be interested in investing in or relocating here.

We also have a dedicated Linkedin 'Invest Chichester' page , which provides regular updates on the work that we are doing, available grants and interesting interviews about what the area has to offer.

You may remember that we opened a £6 million business centre to provide affordable accommodation for new or small to medium sized businesses a few years ago. The Enterprise Centre, located in Terminus Road in Chichester, is run by Basepoint on our behalf. I'm really pleased to tell you that almost all of the business units are currently occupied, which is fantastic news. Some of the businesses that originally started at the site have now gone on to bigger premises, including at Ravenna Point, which we launched in 2019. We invested £2 million into this development to offer new industrial workspaces and trade counters, and all units here are fully occupied. We will also be shortly updating you on our progress with the redevelopment of St James' Industrial Estate, which will provide a further 30 business units. This is great news for our local economy and businesses.

On the High Street, the picture is also far better than other towns and cities across the country. The average vacancy rate across the country is 14.5%, in comparison it is 11.5% in Chichester; 0% in East Wittering, 8.3% in Midhurst, 4.5% in Petworth; and 5.4% in Selsey. We are also aware that some of these vacancies are currently being filled. Two of the shops we own in Crane Street in Chichester are currently being used as pop up shops. These offer affordable temporary premises that allow smaller enterprises and start-up businesses to have the opportunity to trade in a high street location without the commitment or cost of a longer-term lease.

The landlords of the shops control the rental levels, and although we collect business rates, we do this on behalf of the Government, we don't set the rates and we only keep just over 6% of this.  As a council, we are doing huge amounts to support the High Streets, including training, grants, campaigns and improvements. I'll provide more detail on this in a future district dispatch.

I also wanted to provide you with an update on the Southern Gateway project, which is being delivered in partnership with West Sussex County Council and aims to regenerate the Southern area of Chichester. As you can imagine, the pandemic has significantly impacted on our progress with this important project. However, despite all of the challenges we have faced, work has started on the Kingsham School site, where demolition has started on the old school building. The NHS has also reconfirmed their interest in developing a community hub and GP practice on the site and we are also progressing discussions with Stagecoach regarding the relocation of the bus depot and offices. I will continue to keep you updated on this project.

 

Best Wishes

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council