More than 10,000 jobs could be created in the Vale if sites which already have planning permission for employment use are developed.
Council bosses are now meeting with land owners to see what more can be done to encourage sites to be developed and businesses found to occupy units.
There are more than a dozen major sites in the district which have planning permission for business units with a total capcity for 10,500 staff.
These include manufacturing and warehouse units next to the Arla megadairy, which could create 580 jobs, but where ‘the agent and developer report a challenging market with a limited number of enquiries circulating at any one time’.
At Berryfields there is planning permission for various types of employment space with potential for 1,110 jobs.
However, ‘there are concerns in relation to the level of demand and the viability of employment use and specifically in relation to office use in the area’. The Berryfields consortium is said to be ‘keen to bring forward alternative employment use and specifically leisure uses’.
There is also potential for 480 office jobs on land in Gatehouse Road, which is owned by the district council. But again, ‘there are particular concerns in relation to the viability of office development in the area’.
In a report to Aylesbury Vale District Council’s economy and business development scrutiny commmittee, council director Tracey Aldworth admitted that while they have been effective in getting planning permissions for employment zones, ‘we have been less effective at getting developments that have permission actually built and occupied’.
“This contrasts with the position on housing where completions have held up strongly through the recession by comparison with other areas.
“This leads to the concerns that we have had the houses but not the jobs growth, resulting in an unsustainable situation of increased net out-commuting on what is frequently seen as pressured road and rail infrastructure.”
She said rental values that developers can achieve for commercial properties in the Vale are lower than in surrounding areas such as Milton Keynes and Hemel Hempstead, which means it is not viable for them to build on a speculative basis. For this reason developments do not get built unless a specific business has been found to occupy them.
In a bid to get land developed, the council said it would be as ‘flexible as possible’ in allowing changes to schemes to suit specific occupiers.
Its senior bosses are also meeting key developers ‘to understand what is stopping schemes coming forward and to make sure there are no unintended consequences of other council actions, as well as looking for any practical ways in which the council can facilitate or support the development’.