Gloucestershire's ambitious plan to become 'UK capital for world-leading businesses' approved

An ambitious plan, which aims to establish Gloucestershire as “a UK capital” for cutting-edge industries has been approved by Shire Hall bosses. Gloucestershire County Council leaders say Gloucestershire’s Economic Strategy, which runs until 2034 is driven by innovation and built on heritage.

They say it introduces a new long-term vision for the county – Gloucestershire 2050 – which aims to build on the county's successes and establish itself as a centre for the cyber, green energy, nuclear and agri-tech sectors. The strategy sets out the plan to achieve greener and inclusive growth that all residents can contribute to and benefit from.

And it has been put together with input from residents, businesses and partners following a public engagement period held last year. It sets out the priorities and ambitions for the county to deliver long-term sustainable economic growth.

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With the transfer of GFirst LEP functions to the county council earlier this year, council leaders say the strategy provides a new impetus for engaging with businesses and sustainably growing the Gloucestershire economy. The strategy sets out a plan to establish the county as a hub for the UK’s intelligence, security, and cyber agencies by 2050.

As well as a centre for world-leading, sustainable businesses in the cutting-edge industries of digital communications, advanced manufacturing, agri-tech, and green and nuclear energy, while preserving our rich cultural and natural heritage.

The strategy also outlines how Gloucestershire will build on its strength as a prominent location in western England with ease of access to regional hubs in, and beyond, the Western Gateway. The strategy aims to sustain our important rural landscapes and vibrant urban centres and deliver a stronger, more sustainable economy that benefits the whole county.

Councillor Mark Hawthorne.
Leader of the county council Councillor Mark Hawthorne -Credit:Gloucestershire Echo

The strategy outlines the county’s strengths, opportunities and challenges, and is shaped by four main priorities:

  • Sustainable growth – the viability of future development to positively contribute towards Gloucestershire’s future growth needs and to help support a strong, responsive and competitive economy.

  • Inward investment – investment from external companies or individuals is a key component for prosperity and growth in an open economy and Gloucestershire has been successful in attracting this type of investment.

  • Employment and skills – providing residents with access to skills and development opportunities will allow them to reach their potential, which will contribute to the county’s ambition to improve productivity levels and ensure residents have fulfilling careers.

  • Business innovation and support – Gloucestershire has a well established business support system, including GFirst LEP’s Growth Hub and business membership organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses and Chambers of Commerce, which help businesses overcome any barriers to growth.

These priorities will be supported by two themes, Greener Gloucestershire and Inclusive Gloucestershire, council leaders say.

The county’s target is to be carbon neutral by 2045 at the latest, and they say it is important that all residents can access, benefit from and positively contribute to the economy, including those who are economically inactive and those experiencing health inequalities.

Council leader Mark Hawthorne (C, Quedgeley) told Wednesday's cabinet meeting (May 15) that the strategy provides a “great clear of intent for the county”. “It talks about some of the areas we know we have a history and heritage of like cyber, nuclear, agri-tech but also we can be a real driving force for those particular industries going forward,” he said.

“Our genuine belief is that through this document and actions of local businesses in Gloucestershire and in part of the Western Gateway we can be the UK capital for many of these industries going forward.

"Getting that inward investment is really key. Whether it is cyber in Cheltenham and green energy in Berkeley, we are already seeing that commitment being made to our county.”

He also said a strong local workforce is key to deliver that long term economic growth. Environment and planning cabinet member David Gray (C, Winchcombe and Woodmancote) said the need for cooperation across all levels of government is “one of the things driving the strategy”.

“It’s an important document that sets out that ambition,” he said. “‘Driven by innovation built on heritage’ nicely captures the ambition.

"We recognise we have successful county, a beautiful county and we want to make sure what we are delivering is consistent with that and we are delivering growth to enable our residents to achieve everything they want to achieve and we are doing it in a sustainable that is coordinated the whole of the county.”

Cabinet approved the adoption of Gloucestershire’s Economic Strategy (2024 to 2034) - Driven by innovation, built on heritage. And they also delegated authority to the economy, environment and infrastructure executive director to lead the implementation of the Economic Strategy’s Action Plan set out in consultation with the council leader, environment and planning cabinet member, Economic Growth Board and the Gloucestershire City Region Board.