Council brings forward major job creation programme at the Dorset Innovation Park

Dorset Council has unveiled a bold and ambitious plan for the Dorset Innovation Park (DIP) near Wool, with a report going to Cabinet next week seeking investment of £14.6m.

This includes £3.1m for the immediate delivery of ten new light industrial units at the site, as well as a future £11.5m 4-year capital investment plan for the DIP.

The long-term plan features the construction of a new amenity hub, enhancing the gate facilities, building two new industrial/office buildings, and buying land to expand the size of the Park.

It is hoped that expanding the DIP will create new jobs, increase financial returns to the local authority and demonstrate the Council’s commitment to Dorset’s businesses and economy.

The Park, which is delivered in partnership with Dorset Council and Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) offers office space, workshop facilities and fully serviced commercial employment land with Enterprise Zone status benefits such as business rate relief, simplified planning, and full fibre accessibility.

The Council and Dorset LEP are aware of future demand for new light industrial units at the Park and are keen to build on the success of the Defence Battlelab facility, which was developed in partnership with the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Currently there are 34 businesses located at the DIP, providing almost 800 jobs. These businesses operate within the defence/security and advanced engineering and associated sectors. The aim of the DIP is to create 2,000 new jobs by 2042.

To meet the growing demand for industrial units at DIP, Dorset Council is looking to develop around 2,000 sqm of light industrial space divided up into 10 individual units.

The longer-term plan includes a new hub for on-site workers, which would provide a social focus for the Park, offering food and beverages but also facilities to support collaboration and co-operation between tenants and visitors, including meeting and function facilities.

There is also the potential to enter commercial negotiations to develop of two medium sized industrial/office units (around 600 sqm). It is anticipated these would bring a further 145 jobs to the park, with annual income to the Council estimated around £453k.

The report also proposes a new gatehouse to improve the existing entrance experience to the park, providing a more welcoming arrival to visitors. It would also enhance security options and include some much-needed overnight accommodation on site. Finally, the plan outlines looking into purchasing an additional 6 hectares of land to allow for further expansion.

If these plans are agreed by Dorset Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday 21 June, work would begin on the 10 new units later this year. The 4-year plan will be further developed and incorporated into the 2023/24 – 27/28 capital budget proposals, which will be considered by Cabinet and Full Council in January and February 2023.

Cllr Tony Ferrari, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth, Assets and Property, said:

“Dorset is open for business.  The newly opened Defence Battlelab, Dorset’s leading edge 5G infrastructure and the presence of the MoD’s historical infrastructure in Dorset create unique opportunities for companies operating in the Defence sector.  We’re especially keen to build upon the opening of the BattleLab, with proposals that will create more new jobs and a financial return to the Council.

These bold and ambitious plans for the Dorset Innovation Park are vitally important for the local economy and should demonstrate our serious commitment to developing the site and supporting the many businesses there, both now and in the future.”

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