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Gloucestershire is a county well known for its manufacturing, aviation heritage and agriculture as well as its significant cyber and digital assets. It has a highly attractive natural environment which is well balanced with a locational advantage of being within easy access to the South West, Midlands, London, and Wales.
The county is a network of vibrant places, important in history and with an ambition to redefine its role as a strong regional partner to deliver sustained long-term economic growth. The county is clear about the challenges ahead to transition to a carbon net zero economy while providing a high quality of life for existing and future communities that choose to make Gloucestershire their home.
The districts and boroughs which make up the county each have their own distinct personality.
Cheltenham is a lively festival town that is home to the Golden Valley Development and cyber specialisms. Cotswold has a strong rural economy and is a significant area of outstanding natural beauty, while the Forest of Dean became Britain’s first national forest park in 1938 and has high levels of productivity across its modern industrial base.
Gloucester has a rich history and bold city centre regeneration plans. Stroud has strong levels of innovation activity and solid canal regeneration ambitions and, finally, Tewkesbury is at the heart of the county’s advanced engineering sector and future aerospace technology, with significant growth ambitions. The combination of all of these place strengths brings a dynamic environment for the economy.
Gloucestershire has a diverse local economy and is not overly reliant on any single industry or company. Between 2016 and 2021, the county’s gross value added (GVA) increased by 18.9%, higher than the rate of growth seen at a national or regional level (14.5%). However, the positive impacts are not being felt by all.
Gloucestershire has an ageing population and high housing costs which have implications for the workforce with the number of jobs expected to exceed the number of working age people by 2035. Within this resident population, 7.6% live among the most deprived 20% in England, which can have a significant impact on life chances. And businesses face daily challenges of rising costs and finding ways to decarbonise their operations.
To meet the needs of the economy, the county requires a robust long-term vision for economic growth and prosperity supported by a countywide spatial strategy. This will provide confidence to businesses and communities about how the county will grow. It will sustain a quality employment offer within the county and improve ease of access to the opportunities provided across the region. Over the next 30 years, the county will need to balance the need for additional infrastructure, affordable housing, the need to combat climate change, increase its working age population while sustainably managing its natural and historic environment. To achieve this, it is important think strategically and on a countywide basis.