Economic connectivity study
The Western Gateway economic connectivity study was included in its Regional Evidence Base which was submitted to the Department of Transport in July 2019 in response to the Government’s request to identify our Sub-national priorities for the major road network over the period of 2020 to 2025.
The economic connectivity study includes the below areas and key points:
The strategic corridors
- 15 strategic travel corridors have been identified
- The corridors link strategically important locations across the Western Gateway area, including the main urban centres, ports and airports.
- The corridors identified either traverse multiple authorities within the Gateway area or provide strategic linkages to neighbouring areas from which the Gateway area will benefit.
- The 15 corridors were identified according to their existing status or function (such as linking the primary urban areas and ports). The corridors are also considered as strategic, high level facilitators of increased economic activity and are therefore not considered mode-specific.
The economy of the Western Gateway
- The Western Gateway covers a large geographical area and has a diverse economy encompassing some of the UK’s fastest growing areas together with areas that are relatively rural and experiencing poor connectivity to centres of economic activity.
- The Western Gateway area is home to over 3 million people and is a key area for future economic growth. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) forecast that the population of the area will increase by 448,000 people by 2041, a growth rate of 15%. This is faster than the 12% growth rate forecast for England over the same time period.
- An ambitious agenda has been developed to provide housing and employment to match the needs and the increasing attractiveness of the Western Gateway as a place for inward investment and continued economic development.
- Employment in the Western Gateway stands at 1,659,000 people with the two city regions of the West of England and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole providing over half of all the jobs available.
- The area includes several major international transport hubs, with Bristol Airport being the busiest international gateway in the South West. The airport handles approximately 8.4 million passengers per year with over 100 different destinations served across Europe, the Middle East and North America. The airport has a current capacity of 10 million passengers likely to be reached in the early 2020s, demonstrating a clear capacity constraint in the near future.
- The Western Gateway has four sea ports located within its area. These are at Bristol, Poole, Sharpness and Weymouth and Portland. In 2017, the four Gateway area ports processed 10.5 million tonnes of goods, representing 2% of all goods processed through ports in the UK. To maintain their competitive position and to maximise their potential, it is vitally important that the ports are well connected to the national transport network.
There are three main types of quantifiable impacts associated with the 15 strategic corridors:
- Increased productivity due to better connectivity on each corridor
- Increased GVA from employment at the new employment sites planned across the Western Gateway area, and
- Land value gains from unlocked housing at new housing sites across the area.
- Corridor sequencing
- Sequencing approach
- This Economic Connectivity analysis has shown that the Western Gateway area should be viewed as both a single area containing some of the UK’s fastest-growing local economies as well as being a crucial facilitator of improved connectivity to other parts of the country, including the South West, the Solent area, South Wales and the West Midlands.
- Enhanced corridor connectivity across the Western Gateway area will therefore boost economic activity and productivity within the STB area whilst also greatly assisting growth across other neighbouring STBs.
- It is important that connectivity across the 15 strategic corridors is enhanced so that a range of positive outcomes – that align well with Government objectives – can be achieved. The Connectivity analysis has shown that productivity levels, housing provision and employment at key sites can be increased as a result of improved connectivity.
- There will also be scope for providers of different modes to work together along each of the corridors. This will enable a more holistic approach to economic benefit maximisation to be adopted on each of the corridors.
- With the UK facing a degree of economic uncertainty and given the need to rebalance the economy away from reliance on London and the South East, the strategic corridors throughout the Western Gateway area offer an excellent means of generating additional activity as well as an ability to improve links between communities and centres of economic activity.