Cheshire East has some of the most significant science and innovation assets in England, some of which are of global importance.
We played a key role in the establishment of the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone, which covers over 100 hectares, and has the potential to attract in the order of 20,000 jobs and 500 businesses to Cheshire and Warrington through a significantly enhanced profile; attractive business incentives and the ability to retain and reinvest new business rate revenue. For more information see the first Cheshire Science & Innovation Audit
The Science Corridor is a term developed by the LEP that covers a specific geographic area wherein there’s a high concentration of science businesses. We have been engaging and consulting with the big players across this belt for many years; namely, AstraZeneca, Barclays, Royal London, Alderley Park and Waters. Combined, these companies have over 20,000 employees. Cheshire East is unique to many other boroughs because it has large campus style business sites located in semi-rural and rural areas.
- One of the pertinent obstacles faced by these businesses is their rural location, impacting on growth prospects and limited easy connections to transport links.
- The businesses are predominantly knowledge based with increasingly younger workforces who tend to seek jobs in cities and lack the financial position to buy property in Cheshire. Attracting and retaining them to work in a more rural setting with a less robust public transport network compared to cities was problematic.
The Skills & Growth Company’s Role
Ongoing conversations with the science businesses to understand their core issues helped establish a basis to start from. We then conducted staff travel planning and accessibility studies. From this, hotspots where employees live were identified and as expected, most use a car to travel to work. A more sustainable travel mechanism was encouraged but the issue was that it isn’t door-to-door travel like with a car. Instead, employees would still have to walk a couple of miles or pay for an additional medium of transport once they arrive at the nearest bus or train station to their work.
The idea of a shuttle bus service for employees was proposed and a feasibility study commissioned. It would work by linking sites with local transport hubs e.g. Knutsford, Wilmslow and Macclesfield train stations. Proposals were received on the cost to run the service and the concept was liked but the cost was too high to achieve a good ROI for the money the businesses would put in to run it. The decision was made to halt proceedings for now as many of the businesses are going through big internal changes which take precedent. As an alternative, a park and ride is being implemented for staff at Barclays and Royal London.
- Ability to bring employers together that may have never otherwise come together and talked about shared issues.
- Bringing in expertise e.g. travel consultants
- Project and account management
- Providing solutions
To find out more contact us.