Strategy puts Herts at the centre of the gold triangle

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An ambitious vision of Hertfordshire as the leading economy in the “golden triangle” between London, Oxford and Cambridge has been laid out.

Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has published its strategy, identifying three key areas to work on over the years from 2013 to 2030.

These areas are maintaining global excellence in science and technology, harnessing relationships with London and elsewhere and re-invigorating places like Hemel Hempstead for the 21st century.

John Gourd, who chairs the LEP said: “We aim to cement Hertfordshire’s position as a world-leading economy and I am convinced that we’ve set out a strategy which will ensure our county remains perfectly placed for business. “

The strategy identifies areas of strengths and weaknesses in Hemel Hempstead.

It says changes are needed in the town centre which has struggled recently.

But it says a town centre masterplan is in place encompassing strategies for land use, access, movement and a quality environment.

Identifying Hemel Hempstead and other new towns such as Hatfield and Stevenage, it states: “The urban fabric is in urgent need of regeneration.

“Indeed, with surplus commercial and retail space, some of the towns (and particularly the town centres) are quite out of kilter with the character and potential of Hertfordshire more generally.“

Hinting that town centres are no longer fit for purpose the report adds: “Their economic roles and functions need to be re-defined at the whole town scale.

“Within this – and in the light of the growth of online retailing – the mix of town centre uses may need to be re-appraised as part of a new urban vision.”

But the report adds that Watford, St Albans, Cheshunt and Hemel Hempstead can claim to have accommodated notable businesses in the financial and services sectors.

High-end logistics, particularly for servicing London-based households and businesses, is seen as a sector where Hertfordshire could do well.

Worth £25billion, there are 55,000 active businesses in Hertfordshire making it the UK’s fifth largest economy.

The next step will be to develop a Strategic Economic Plan that sets out the key projects and activities to move the strategy forward over the next three to five years.

The first draft of this plan will be completed before Christmas with a final version to be submitted to government – along with proposals to secure funding – in March next year.

The full growth strategy can be seen on the LEP website at www.hertfordshirelep.co.uk

The Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is a business-led organisation, bringing together the private and public sectors, in order to make Hertfordshire the ideal environment for businesses to flourish.

Based in Welwyn Garden City, its specialised team is developing plans to boost the local economy. It is the LEP’s ambition for Hertfordshire to become a world-leading economy, one of the top three in the country outside London.