One of our most important roles is to support economic development and regeneration, delivering sustainable towns and rural communities, and increased economic growth.
How do we do it? There are several important strands: encouraging business start-ups and enterprises; supporting flourishing town centres that strengthen the local economy; promoting tourism; and enabling high- quality development and building control with an “open for business” approach.
Recent projects delivered under this objective include the commercial operation of the Pavilion Gardens, including a review of the Tourist Information Centre and Tourism Service in Buxton. Also in Buxton, and with the support of a wide range of partners, we’re making excellent progress on the once-in-a-generation restoration and development around the Crescent and the Spa. We’re also focusing on the careful and sensitive restoration and reordering of of Glossop Halls, and the development of Torr Vale Mill. Partners include Homes England, Derbyshire County Council, and Sport England.
From 2012 – 2016, High Peak’s economy grew faster (19%) than the national average. 83.8% of the local population (over 50,000 people) are in employment; and while public sector jobs decreased by 3,000 over the period, those in the private sector increased by 5,500. The figures for Staffordshire Moorlands are just as encouraging: unemployment is low and falling sharply – 85.7% of the working age population are in employment. At over 10%, self-employment is above the county average, and business survival rates are the highest in the local area. An impressive 93.8% of businesses established in 2016 are still trading today.
Tourism supports around 7,000 jobs across the Alliance area, and contributed over £525m to the local economy. The numbers are on the up too: our integrated approach to the visitor economy has been a real success, and overall visitor numbers have increased by over 50% since the Alliance was formed.
While companies in the private sector often appear to be the visible face of new development, in almost every case our officers have been involved in the unseen but vital work of enabling that site to take shape. Services such as planning, building control, public realm and other crucial professions bring together the critical factors that ensure that a development will succeed, and deliver the wider needs of local residents.
Thriving market towns don’t just happen by themselves, and we have taken a conscious decision to invest time and resource in ensuring that visitors, shoppers and new traders have us firmly on their map. For example, Leek now offers over 10,000m2 of outdoor gazebo market retail space, a year-on-year increase of 20%. Stall occupancy on our Wednesday and Saturday markets are up by a quarter in the same period, and we now welcome over 100 individual traders every week.