A £2.5m project is underway to create 20 new employment units in Winfrith, Dorset.
Building work has started on the new units at the Dorset Enterprise Zone at Winfrith, which is already home to world leaders in marine, defence and advanced engineering, together with related supply industries.
The new units will provide a welcome jobs boost to the Purbeck area by offering local businesses an opportunity to grow.
There has been significant investment in the whole site by Purbeck District Council, Dorset County Council and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) as well as the private sector. It has also benefited from £600,000 investment secured by Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) via the Local Growth Fund. Dorset LEP also led on securing Enterprise Zone status for the site.
The units, due for completion in October 2017, will be fully serviced and let to businesses on ‘easy in, easy out’ terms with one month’s notice. Expressions of interest from businesses seeking new workspace are now being invited by agents Sibbett Gregory.
The project marks the first new-build development at the former Winfrith atomic energy site for more than 20 years.
Councillor Cherry Brooks, Economy and Infrastructure Portfolio Holder, Purbeck District Council, said: “The Dorset Enterprise Zone is a significant asset for the district and we are committed to its future success. The new buildings will offer a space for companies seeking to grow, bringing job opportunities for local people, as well as providing expansion space for those businesses already on site.”
Councillor Colin Jamieson, Dorset County Council Cabinet member for economy and growth, said:
“This significant investment by the local partners is a vote of confidence in the Dorset Enterprise Zone and recognises the real opportunity it presents to contribute to the long-term prosperity and vitality of the Dorset economy.”
Gordon Page, Chairman of DLEP, said:
“I am delighted to see the first phase of demolition of unusable buildings has been completed. The start of building the new infrastructure is a really positive as we approach the launch of the Dorset Enterprise Zone at the beginning of April. This promises to be the start of a 25 year programme of good economic news for Purbeck and beyond. The LEP has contributed to the acquisition of the site by Dorset County Council and will lead the management team of the site going forward.”
John Sutcliffe, Business Development Director, Atlas Elektronik, which plans to expand its current operations at the site once the units are complete, said: “Atlas Elektronik has a rich legacy of innovation and invention on the Winfrith site which is already a centre of excellence for science, advanced engineering and innovative technologies, so it is appropriate and exciting that work has commenced on this development. Our growth, in addition to regional investment in this enterprise zone, will secure a range of employment opportunities for the local population of Purbeck and across Dorset.”
In 2015, the Chancellor of the Exchequer formally announced the Enterprise Zone status for the site. This comes into effect from April. In addition to ultrafast broadband, the status means new businesses locating to the site will benefit from up to five years of business rate holidays and all business rates collected on new development on the site can be reinvested in the site over a 25 year period.
In 2016, Purbeck District Council and Dorset County Council purchased 6.2 hectares of land on the 40-hectare site from the HCA after the previous leaseholders went into receivership. The HCA invested £1.5m to get the site ready for development, including the demolition of derelict buildings. Investment was needed to provide reassurance to existing thriving businesses on the site and build future confidence.
Acheson Construction of Dorchester is building the units, which are due to be completed in autumn 2017. Purbeck District Council is working with Sibbett Gregory to market the units.