‘No room’ for Morecambe firms to grow

David Morris.
David Morris.

Businesses looking to expand in the Morecambe area are struggling to find the space.

Out of 111 local firms surveyed, 41.4 per cent said they were thinking about expansion and 76 per cent of these had experienced problems finding land or office space.

Janice Hanson.

Janice Hanson.

Firms also said there was a shortage of office accommodation suitable for more than 40 employees in the technology industries, a lack of affordable medium sized units and that White Lund is full to capacity.

The problem was highlighted in a survey carried out by David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale.

Mr Morris’ consultation also revealed there was 94.6 per cent support for his campaign to create an Enterprise Zone in our area. The top themes for the Enterprise Zone suggested by businesses were engineering, manufacturing, energy and transport.

One of the business owners said it would be “suicidal” not to back the scheme.

Enterprise Zones are designated areas across England that provide tax breaks and Government support to companies.

Benefits include up to 100% business rate discount worth up to £275,000 per business over a five-year period, simplified local authority planning and Government support for superfast broadband roll-out.

Mr Morris said: “The sheer number of businesses who have contacted me to say that they want to expand in the area but haven’t been able to find suitable premises, shows the real need for new commercial premises to be built and that there is a real need for development.

“The business community in Morecambe and Lunesdale are ready to embrace the M6 link road to create jobs and further prosperity and realise that a key part of that is opening up our area for more businesses to thrive and expand. I have sent a copy of the findings of this exercise to the Chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership Edwin Booth, and I hope that now we can prove we have a business case for an application that the LEP decides to support businesses in Morecambe and Lunesdale.”

The MP is campaigning for an Enterprise Zone as either an extension of White Lund or near the new Bay Gateway link road.

Coun Janice Hanson, deputy leader of Lancaster City Council, said the council was “looking to make new space for business growth at Heysham Gateway, North Lancaster and within the potential Bailrigg Garden Village” near Lancaster University.

Coun Hanson said the council would also “examine potential for new development opportunities around Lancaster city centre”.

In January, Janice Hanson, also cabinet member for economic regeneration at Lancaster City Council, said it would be “inappropriate” to promote our district and White Lund in particular for Enterprise Zones because they “are intended to encourage growth in areas where investment is hard to attract”.

She also said “if local conditions were to decline and warrant such a need, there might be a strong case for support and intervention”.

The city council applied for land at Heysham to be considered as an Enterprise Zone in 2011 but the proposal did not meet the relevant criteria.

Mr Morris said in response at the time: “As regeneration lead for the council Janice Hanson, should already be engaging with and working to help these businesses. The response she has given has shown that she has no real knowledge of our areas needs or any drive to ensure we are succeeding not just now but for many years to come.”

Coun Hanson said this week: “The council is not aware of any significant changes to the qualifying criteria for Enterprise Zones which would provide new opportunities for the council to gain the support of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership to designate one for Lancaster district. If Mr Morris can demonstrate that such criteria has changed and such an opportunity exists the council would be happy to consider it.”