Agenda item

An Economic Development Strategy for Gravesham, 2019 to 2023


The Committee was provided with a draft economic development strategy report which was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Assistant Director (Communities) advised that Appendix Two was the draft Economic Development Strategy which was meant to be brought to the Committee in March 2020 however it was delayed following the lockdown. Appendix Three gave a summary of the seven themes for the draft Strategy and Appendix Four showcased the action plan in Support of the Economic Growth Strategy for Gravesham. Appendix Five unpacked theme 4 and assisted Members in their understanding of the wider actions being taken in respect of enterprise support.


The Assistant Director (Communities) stated that the choice to defer the Strategy until later this year to see what will happen post COVID-19 was discussed but it was decided that it was not worth losing all of the hard work that had already been put into developing it. The report has been summited to the Committee for discussion to enable the Strategy to move forward. The Assistant Director (Communities) added that once the framework was in place then other partners issuing similar Strategies could be engaged with and influenced; similarly the documents will be fed through Strategic Groups. 


The Assistant Director (Communities) highlighted key points from the report regarding:


·         Covid-19 Recovery – Economic Themes

·         A Draft Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan

·         The seven objectives of the draft Economic Development Strategy

·         Next Steps for Gravesham


The Chair reminded the Committee that Members first saw the draft Strategy in November 2019 and it had strong links, for the first time, with the Corporate Plan. The Strategy will need to incorporate engagement with businesses post COVID-19 as they will need assistance to move forward. 


The Assistant Director (Communities) fielded questions from the Committee and explained that:


·         The team would like to find suitable workspaces which could be let out to people that need a space to work that isn’t at the office or at home. Any workface that was found would have to be designed to fit the current situation but it is doable

·         Upgrading infrastructure in the more rural areas such as Shorne and Higham has not been considered at this stage but it is something that will be looked into in the future although some existing conflicts will need to be managed first

·         The action plan regarding upskilling the local workforce is included in the plan for the whole of the Strategy

·         Part of the Council’s mind-set moving forward will include encouraging more people to use public transport rather than their own vehicle. Public transport will be taken into consideration as part of any infrastructure reform

·         There are opportunities for small businesses to grow within the next few years and the Council will seek to manage the workspaces to allow that growth

·         The business support grants helped a lot of small businesses in the rural areas of Gravesham and the Council aimed to raise the profile of them in the future


The discussion also noted that improving the rural economy did not just mean providing superfast broadband, it was also about improving the infrastructure and local road connections leading to rural business areas.


The Assistant Director (Communities) advised that he was happy to take the Strategy forward, with Members approval, but it was recognised that it was only a draft document that would need input from local businesses and stakeholders too.


The Chair summarised the discussion to Members and assured Members that their views would be incorporated into the Strategy.


Supporting documents: