Issue date: 21 February 2008
Businesses east of the M32 in Bristol are very diverse and offer sustainable employment but have to compete with housing developers to find suitable business premises. These were among the findings of recent research carried out by the University of the West of England's Bristol Business School on behalf of Bristol East Side Traders (BEST).
A survey of all 1100 business premises in the area was carried out by two postgraduate students under the supervision of economics experts from the University during last summer. This was followed up by a survey of 270 businesses in the area. Academic supervisor Anthony Plumridge said, “Based on the survey evidence businesses in the two wards of Easton and Lawrence Hill are in remarkable economic health, considering this is the 14th most deprived area of the country. Many employees live within three miles of their work. There is a 50-60 per cent level of self-containment, meaning that more than half of their customers and suppliers are also from within three miles. This is much higher than the rate of 40 per cent found at regional level, and 20-30 per cent in the rest of Bristol, and is a very environmentally friendly way of doing business.”
The graduates were Dolly Akindele, who has a master's degree in Estate Management, and Gabriel Anthony, who is doing a masters degree in Applied Computing and Information Technology. They spent ten weeks visiting all businesses armed with questionnaires during a summer marked with extremes of weather, and conducted detailed surveys of a sample of these. They found out what businesses exist, who their potential clients are, and their needs for commercial space now and for the next twenty years.
“The students were full of enthusiasm, and went out rain or shine, showing courage and determination, and succeeded in providing us with the fullest possible picture of the situation now and in the future,” continued Anthony Plumridge. “We are very grateful for the operational support from BEST, who sponsored the research.”
Property Services Manager Jari Moate said, “We work with the local community to tackle physical and environmental barriers to business growth. That's why we asked UWE to conduct this survey, to find out the extent to which local businesses have to compete with the demand for housing space close to Bristol city centre which can command much higher prices.”
The survey was commissioned by BEST under UWE's Graduate Consultancy Scheme, which organises work placements of around three months for recent graduates of the University, offering academic support on projects of specific benefit to clients.
A similar project is currently under way in St Paul's, west of the M32. UWE is working on an assessment of current and future workspace supply and demand in St Paul's up to the year 2026. This will include finding out what attracts businesses to St Paul's and what are the barriers to businesses locating and investing there.
• BEST is a not-for-profit company formed in 1999 that aims to develop a thriving local economy in Bristol's inner city to benefit residents as entrepreneurs, employees and customers. For more information call Chino on 0117 916 6421 or visit http://www.bristoleastsidetraders.co.uk