The Centre for Cities, a national research and policy institute, has published a new report entitled “The Economic Geography of the Gatwick Diamond”. It says that the Gatwick Diamond’s GVA has grown to £24bn in 2015 making it one of the UK’s best performing areas.
The economic report measures the performance of the Gatwick Diamond and examines the dual role that the Gatwick Diamond plays as an economy in its own right, and as a provider of workers to London, investigating the implications this has for skills and housing in the area. It was jointly commissioned by the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, Gatwick Airport, and the Coast to Capital LEP to aid future economic development planning.
Paul Gresham, Co-Chairman of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative has welcomed its findings. He said: “It is good to have independent evidence that over the past ten years, the Gatwick Diamond economy has performed well above national averages. However, we recognise the pressure this success brings, and we are working with our partners to address these issues now for the benefit of future generations.”
Analysts found that the Gatwick Diamond area performs well above the national average on a range of economic indicators, including its productivity levels, share of high-skilled jobs and track-record of attracting foreign investment. However, the report also highlights some challenges ahead.
It says there is a need to attract even more higher-skilled jobs to maintain the Gatwick Diamond’s strong performance in the future. To achieve this, additional high-quality office space is required, particularly in town centre environments where knowledge-intensive companies prefer to locate.
At the same time, demand for high quality premises on existing and planned business parks in the Gatwick Diamond will need to be met.
Addressing the supply of new homes for employees is important too, whilst noting the planning constraints of the greenbelt. There are fears that the rising cost of housing is making the area less attractive to skilled workers – more of whom will be needed in the future to sustain economic growth. The report identifies that part of the solution may be to encourage more residents to work closer to home, along with improvements to transport infrastructure and connectivity to expand the travel-to-work area.
Alison Addy, Head of Community Engagement at Gatwick Airport said “This report provides further evidence of the positive role that Gatwick Airport plays as an economic engine for the region, and a valuable perspective on some of the challenges that the Gatwick Diamond faces. We look forward to continuing our work with the Gatwick Diamond Initiative and other partners across the region to build on the socioeconomic benefits that the airport delivers today and in the future.”
Andrew Carter, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, said: “The Gatwick Diamond is one of the most economically vibrant areas of the UK, with higher levels of productivity, wages and skills than the national average. To ensure that it continues to prosper, local leaders need to address some of the costs of that success.”
Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive at Coast to Capital LEP said: We are delighted to have part-funded this research into the Gatwick Diamond, a strategically important part of the Coast to Capital area. This research will support our evidence base as we develop our new Strategic Economic Plan for the region and continue to undertake activity which supports the report’s recommendations on office space, housing, and connectivity.”