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GRO1 - Creating the conditions for economic growth

GRO1 - Creating the conditions for economic growth


The Plan helps to create the conditions for driving productivity and prosperity for all, attracting inward investment in knowledge-based industries including the marine and advanced manufacturing sectors and supporting new and existing city business.

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The city will create the conditions for driving productivity and prosperity for all, attracting inward investment in knowledge-based industries including the marine and advanced manufacturing sectors and supporting new and existing city business, through the following measures:

  1. Delivering transformational economic infrastructure.
    1. Developing its world class marine / defence technology assets through the Oceansgate Enterprise Zone and other key developments and locations (for example Smart Sound).
    2. Adopting a proactive and innovative approach to utilising the city's significant marine/defence research assets, including the creation of new research facilities in strategic locations.
    3. Developing a world-class 'knowledge campus' in the north of the city, particularly in the Derriford area, through proactive management of strategic employment sites to achieve optimal outcomes.
    4. Developing infrastructure that supports the business sector in contributing to a net-zero city, including both business and learning and skills development space and capabilities.
  2. Encouraging business growth and investment.
    1. Supporting the Growth Hub in creating an integrated and accessible business support offer for all businesses looking for start-up support or for growth advice, guidance and signposting.
    2. Supporting the development of new business incubation environments to raise business start-up rates, including space for connecting students, academics, researchers and entrepreneurs and providing start-up capital, mentoring and skills to retain talent and grow new businesses.
    3. Raising the proportion of businesses exporting (including trading online) and helping those currently exporting to exploit new market opportunities through targeted support.
    4. Opening up data where possible to improve our collective understanding of how the city operates and unlocking the potential of a smart city, while improving digital connectivity (for example. through 5G, full-fibre) and cyber security, thereby supporting the growth of existing businesses, driving innovative business opportunities and maximising the potential of the digital industry.
    5. Boosting levels of local procurement and connecting residents to opportunities arising from major developments and inward investments.
  3. Empowering people, communities, businesses and institutions to develop co-operative, mutual and other social enterprise initiatives to drive their own economic success.
    1. Providing targeted support for the creation and growth of cooperatives, mutual and other social enterprises across the city, building on Plymouth's status as a Social Enterprise City.
    2. Empowering communities to develop new economic opportunities, including through the transfer of community based assets and the growth of cooperatives, mutual and other social enterprises and the voluntary and community sector.
  4. Use planning powers to ensure that a good supply employment land is provided and maintained to meet the needs of existing and new businesses.


With a population of 263,100 (ONS 2016), an economic output of £5.2 billion (ONS 'Balanced' Regional GVA 2017),107,000 jobs (ONS 2017) and 100,000 people in its travel to work area; Plymouth is the most significant urban area on the south west peninsula.

Whilst much progress has been made, Plymouth continues to experience a 'productivity gap' compared with other stronger performing city economies, and is yet to fully realise its potential as the urban driver of economic growth across the south west. Allied to this, an over-dependence on the public sector in output and employment terms has created an economic vulnerability more akin to areas of northern England, rather than the relatively more prosperous south.

Therefore, at the heart of the approach set out in this plan are the overarching objectives of raising average productivity across the city’s industry sectors, and re-balancing economic activity from high public sector dependency to increased private sector contribution to growth. To grow the private sector, we need to support our existing businesses to grow, innovate and expand into new markets; and to attract new business investment into the city. In return, businesses help deliver high value jobs with increased average earnings.

This approach is underpinned by a strong understanding of what makes Plymouth's economy tick. The six drivers are:

  1. Enterprise and entrepreneurship: in particular increasing the rate of business start-ups in the city and focussing growth support on businesses with high potential for growth (scale-up business); as well as promoting management excellence and firm-level productivity so as to improve business competitiveness on national and international markets.
  2. Indigenous and inward investment: helping local businesses grow and supporting, attracting and providing the right conditions for new investment to the city, bringing in new jobs, skills and ideas.
  3. Innovation and the knowledge economy: balanced, diversified and knowledge intensive business base.
  4. Employment and skills: developing, attracting, and retaining high-level skills; improving attainment, raising the proportion of NVQ4+ qualifications, and matching skills with demand.
  5. Economic re-balancing: encouraging private sector jobs growth and higher levels of exporting.
  6. Business infrastructure: maximising the physical and digital connectivity, and the resilience of this enabling infrastructure; increasing capacity and enabling capital investment through increased provision of employment land, workspaces, innovation centres, incubation
    spaces, and Science Parks.

Significant areas of opportunity include:

  • Building on our defence sector's strengths which includes future opportunities for autonomous applications, the development of a technology park at Oceansgate Enterprise Zone and creating a centre for autonomous excellence.
  • Improving the coordination of current technologies, monitoring and facilities in Plymouth Sound and the western English Channel and to promote and develop this marine environment for the testing and development of marine technologies of the future.
  • Developing on our medical and health strengths to create a working ecosystem capable of drawing inward investment in health technologies. This involves joining up existing strengths that lie in the city's high concentration of high-value manufacturing in health, its competitive R&D and innovation capabilities across the HEIs and its Science Park, the largest teaching hospital in Europe, innovative digital technologies in e-health, and a challenging ageing demographic which presents opportunities for testing technologies in Healthy Ageing. These strengths present the potential for a regionally-significant health technology cluster, with Plymouth at the centre of the region on innovations in health.
  • The HotSW LEP capitalising on future government funding deals to deliver strong and transformational levels of economic growth across the Heart of the South West.
  • Allied to this, Mayflower 400 is a pivotal moment for the city’s economy, designed and delivered as a dynamic and innovative event to drive forward many aspects of the city's economy.
  • Capitalising on Plymouth's Social Enterprise City status as a driver of economic growth and community regeneration. The accolade recognises the extent and quality of social enterprise business activity in the city, the awareness raising and market development that supports it, and the involvement of partners.
  • Supporting digital/creative businesses. In the UK as a whole, creative industries contribute 6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product and employ over two million people. The sector is forecast to play a bigger role in coming years. If Plymouth is to achieve a balanced, high-growth economy, it is vital that the key strengths of businesses in the creative sector are nurtured. Programmes on a range of issues will therefore be developed to deliver the conditions under which our creative industries can thrive.
  • Growing the green economy. Plymouth has among the lowest carbon emissions of UK cities and there exists a real opportunity to capitalise upon its green credentials as a driver of growth and investment. The natural capital is of significant value to the city and the region (as recognised in HotSW's Productivity Strategy), and a key selling point in attracting certain businesses and workers away from London. UK's first Marine National Park being developed in Plymouth. Clean Growth is also recognised as a significant UK Industrial Strategy and HotSW Local Industrial Strategy opportunity, particularly around offshore renewables and nuclear decommissioning at Devonport HMNB. To maximise the benefits of green growth we need to be aware of the opportunities and follow technological developments and trends closely, prepare our workforce with appropriate knowledge and skills, ensure that plans and strategies reflect infrastructure needs as they develop over time, and develop the city's reputation in the UK and abroad as a centre for low carbon innovation and leading marine management, for example in respect of its National Marine Park intent.
  • Creating the landscape and culture for a smart city; one that allows Plymouth people and businesses to fully utilise the power of accessible and machine readable open data. A smart city will unlock the use of integrated digital and technological solutions leading to efficiencies, sustainability and a better quality of life, and can drive new and existing business growth.

The Joint Local Plan identifies land for over 300,000 sq.m. of business space along with provision for a further 243,000 sq.m. at the Langage strategic employment site to meet the economic growth needs of the city.

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