Bristol's Temple Meads enterprise zone to open

Land alongside Temple Meads railway station Critics argue firms relocating will not receive tax breaks and only benefit from fast broadband

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The official opening of a multimillion-pound "enterprise zone" in Bristol is to take place later.

Firms in the zone, located near Temple Meads railway station, will have reduced business rates and simplified planning rules.

Bristol is one of four cities chosen by the government in June 2011 to try to boost economic growth.

But critics believe the zone will not create additional jobs, with super-fast broadband the only benefit to firms.

The leader of Liberal Democrat-run Bristol City Council, Barbara Janke, said the city had a huge amount to offer potential businesses wishing to invest.

"We are one of the most business friendly, green cities in Europe with a track record of supporting innovative companies to thrive and grow," she said.

ENTERPRISE ZONE BENEFITS

  • A 100% business rate discount worth up to £275,000 over a five-year period
  • "Radically simplified" planning approach
  • Super-fast broadband availability

"With its simplified planning and business rate discounts, the enterprise zone offers an exciting investment opportunity at the heart of the city and the South West region."

BBC West Business Correspondent Dave Harvey said, as a symbol of recession-hit Britain, the area around Temple Meads was powerful.

"There is wasteland and derelict buildings on what should be prime real estate by Brunel's famous station," he said.

"Backers of the new enterprise zone hope to lure creative, digital, design companies with a tax break and super-fast broadband.

"Getting similar firms next to set up in a new 'creative quarter' can boost productivity, and so create more jobs but critics worry the tax breaks just distort the market."

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