Business leaders heard of ambitious plans to transform Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole into a ‘world-class city region’ at a Dorset Chamber event.
BCP Council leader Drew Mellor and portfolio holder for Regeneration, Economy and Strategic Planning Philip Broadhead set out their vision at the virtual forum.
It included stepping up regeneration across the area, attracting more tech firms with one of the best 5G networks nationwide and restoring a sense of pride – including in town centres – while making the economy the council’s number one priority.
They appeared at the latest Business Leaders event held by the chamber – Dorset’s voice of business – attended by nearly 50 owners, directors and senior managers.
Business leaders raised issues including the speed and priorities of the planning system, the high street, sustainability, arts and culture, the pace of regeneration, international trade, Covid-19 and revitalisation of town centres.
Mellor said that the council – the 12th biggest local authority nationwide – aimed to put the conurbation on the map as a city region.
He added: “We are three towns but one place. We have a vision of being a city region, and one that is world class. We have all of the ingredients here and now is the right time to do it.”
Broadhead, who is deputy leader as well as a portfolio holder, told how the council was working on ‘bounceback’ plans for 2021 and on a strategy for town centres.
He said: “This is an opportunity to look at what we want the high street of the future to look like and how we can achieve this.”
Business leaders took part in three polls which showed most were positive about their future prospects, that turnover would improve in the next three months and that their workforce numbers would increase.
Ian Girling, chief executive of the Dorset Chamber, said: “Our latest Business Leaders Forum was very encouraging.
“We are grateful to Cllr Mellor and Cllr Broadhead for taking the time to speak to the business community and hear its views.
“Business leaders raised some key issues, most notably around town centres and the speed of the planning process, during a very constructive and positive discussion.
“We look forward to continuing this dialogue and playing a full part in the future growth of the area as part of the BCP’s council ambitious plans.”
Dorset Chamber is the county’s leading business support organisation. It has close links with both the BCP Council and the Dorset Council.
It was the first chamber event attended by Mellor since his election as council leader in October.
Visit www.dorsetchamber.co.uk for more details.