Construction & Property

Published: June 19, 2022 | Updated: June 20, 2022

Council brings forward “bold and ambitious” plans to create jobs at Dorset Innovation Park

By Andrew Diprose, editor

Dorset Council has unveiled “bold and ambitious” plans for Dorset Innovation Park (DIP) near Wool.

A report going to Cabinet this week seeks investment of £14.6m.

This includes £3.1m for the immediate delivery of ten new light industrial units at the site, as well as a future £11.5m four-year capital investment plan for DIP.

The long-term plan features the construction of a new amenity hub, enhancing the gate facilities, building two new industrial/office buildings, and buying land to expand the size of the park.

It is hoped that expanding DIP will create new jobs, increase financial returns to the local authority and demonstrate the council’s commitment to Dorset’s businesses and economy.

Dorset Innovation Park is delivered in partnership with Dorset Council and Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

It offers office space, workshop facilities and fully serviced commercial employment land with Enterprise Zone status benefits such as business rate relief, simplified planning, and full fibre accessibility.

The council and Dorset LEP say they are aware of future demand for new light industrial units and are keen to build on the success of the Defence Battlelab facility, which was developed in partnership with the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Currently there are 34 businesses located at the DI, pictured, providing almost 800 jobs.

These businesses operate within the defence/security and advanced engineering and associated sectors.

The aim of Dorset Innovation Park is to create 2,000 new jobs by 2042.

To meet the growing demand for industrial units at DIP, Dorset Council is looking to develop around 2,000 sqm of light industrial space divided up into ten individual units.

The longer-term plan includes a new hub for on-site workers, which would provide a social focus for DIP, offering food and beverages but also facilities to support collaboration and co-operation between tenants and visitors, including meeting and function facilities.

There is also the potential to enter commercial negotiations to develop two medium sized industrial/office units (around 600 sqm).

It is anticipated these would bring a further 145 jobs to the park, with annual income to the council estimated around £453,000.

The report also proposes a new gatehouse to improve the existing entrance experience to the park, providing a more welcoming arrival to visitors.

It would also enhance security options and include some much-needed overnight accommodation on site.

Finally, the plan outlines looking into purchasing an additional six hectares of land to allow for further expansion.

If these plans are agreed by Dorset Council’s Cabinet on June 21, work will begin on the ten new units later this year.

The four-year plan will be further developed and incorporated into the 2023/24-27/28 capital budget proposals, which will be considered by Cabinet and the Full Council in January and February 2023.

Cllr Tony Ferrari, pictured left, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth, Assets and Property, said: “Dorset is open for business.

“The newly opened Defence Battlelab, Dorset’s leading edge 5G infrastructure and the presence of the MoD’s historical infrastructure in Dorset create unique opportunities for companies operating in the defence sector.

“We’re especially keen to build upon the opening of the BattleLab, with proposals that will create more new jobs and a financial return to the council.

“These bold and ambitious plans for the Dorset Innovation Park are vitally important for the local economy and should demonstrate our serious commitment to developing the site and supporting the many businesses there, both now and in the future.”