Wales

Welshpool and Abermule business parks 'flexibility' plea

A more flexible approach has been called for to attract businesses to two empty business parks in mid Wales.

The £1.9m Offa's Dyke Business Park extension near Welshpool and a £650,000 site at Abermule were launched in October 2009, but both remain deserted.

Abermule councillor Wynne T Jones said the government needed to change its buildings policy.

He said the existing policy made it too expensive for businesses to build on the sites.

The Welsh government said it was still marketing the sites.

The business parks were created as part of the £7.5m Severn Valley Regeneration Programme funded in the main by Welsh Government and European Funding.

'Bespoke premises'

The 15-acre extension at the Trewern site near Welshpool has room for 19 business units while the smaller Abermule facility has capacity for seven.

Mr Jones, a former Powys cabinet member responsible for regeneration, said: "Both parks were set up to attract businesses who wanted a bespoke premises so their buildings could be built to their specification.

"But the Welsh government made a decision that all buildings at these parks would have to conform to 'BREEAM excellent standard'."

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) is the world's longest established used method of assessing, rating and certifying the sustainability of buildings.

Mr Jones added: "The problem with this decision was that building costs to achieve this standard would be 40% more than the normal building costs.

"Consequently it has been very difficult for interested businesses to get loans from banks to pay for possible buildings at these parks.

"This has proved a stumbling block when businesses have shown an interest in moving to Trewern or Abermule."

Mr Jones has decided to write to Welsh Economic Minister Edwina Hart asking her to market the parks in a different way.

'Banking crisis'

He said: "The Welsh government need to be far more flexible in its approach in these difficult economic times.

"Its current policy makes the cost prohibitive for businesses to set up in these parks.

"It could fund the building work for companies before leasing them back to businesses."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Both business parks are construction-ready with all the necessary infrastructure in place.

"This work was completed just before the banking crisis and recession, from which the commercial property market has yet to fully recover.

"Individual plots continue to be marketed with on site signage and through the Wales Property Database."

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