YOU know that a scheme is considered important when the Chancellor of the Exchequer comes to Bristol to open it. Few Bristolians are aware of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone but the initiative could change the city and its fortunes forever.
The plans are grand in their ambition and the aim is to create thousands of jobs by bringing new firms into the run-down and neglected area around the station.
At the moment the only evidence of activity is the Creative Common Big Top – a semi permanent venue which will host events throughout the summer. Similar schemes have been tried before, not just in Bristol but across the UK, and have been met with limited success.
But the Enterprise Zone, which is being overseen by the Local Enterprise Partnership, marks a completely new approach.
The aim is to combine public and private to foster growth and create a whole new business district in Bristol city centre at the same time.
Running alongside the Enterprise Zone are five Enterprise Areas – which underlines the scale and the size of the ambition of the Local Enterprise Partnership.
The aim is too create as many as 60,000 new jobs across the whole of the region.
The five Enterprise Areas include Filton, Avonmouth, Emersons Green, Bath and Weston-super-Mare. Each will specialise in one particular field but all five will work together on bolstering the economy.
Filton is about creating high-tech sector jobs, Avonmouth manufacturing and distribution, Emersons Green will be centred on the Science Park, Weston business services and Bath media and publishing.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise Zone will include a much needed indoor arena and a new passenger transport hub connecting the railway station and the new rapid transit system.
The vision is people arriving from London on the new high speed electrified train and arriving in the heart of a bustling district with direct transport links to the city centre.
Bristol was highlighted as a key centre for investment and development in the upcoming years.
According to accountancy firm Deloitte's latest Real Estate report, investors are being drawn to the city thanks to devolution of power from London and large planned infrastructure projects.
The Deloitte UK Key Cities report explores the trend that regional offices are emerging as a focus for savvy investors seeking higher returns.
Bristol is among a new wave of cities recognising the need to stand apart from competing locations and bridge the gap between themselves and London.
Martyn Gregory, pictured, head of Deloitte Real Estate in the South West and Wales, said: "We expect to see increasing activity in Bristol over the coming months with the potential for positive rental growth in some locations.
"Importantly, there are strong signals that there will be further investor interest in the city, with the Enterprise Zone at the heart of this growth in the upcoming years.
"It is encouraging to see the momentum that Bristol is taking in terms of infrastructure and governance and we believe this will provide a level of confidence to investors in the future performance of local real estate markets within the city.
"At the heart of Bristol's economic investment is the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, the city region's flagship regeneration project. The Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone successfully bid for £20.8 million of funding from the Local Infrastructure Fund last autumn and Bristol City Council is currently working up plans for 17 infrastructure projects in the zone."
Mr Gregory added: "Bristol will need to prove it is taking the responsibility of the City Deals scheme seriously and effectively. Like every other city granted this type of independence, Bristol must demonstrate the economic benefits of being able to take certain decisions at a local level.
"The success of the Enterprise Zone will be a key issue and a true test of how much impact the city council, the Local Enterprise Partnership and the elected mayor are having in attracting major investment and regeneration into the area. Property professionals will be watching with interest."
The most recent Enterprise Zone project to be announced is the £35m office development of Two Glass Wharf which sees 100,000 sq ft of office space built within the next few months. Moreover, the delivery of an arena and the redevelopment of Temple Meads station will be a key catalyst to the regeneration of the city. Network Rail has already set aside £100 million to redevelop the historic station with work set to start in 2016.
To put it simply Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone is one of the largest urban regeneration projects in the UK and was the first Enterprise Zone to be announced by the Government.
It was officially opened a year ago by Chancellor George Osborne and it is designed to boost local growth and create jobs. Initial estimates reckon that around 400 new businesses could be accommodated here over the ambitious 25 year project, leading to 17,000 new jobs.
George Ferguson, the mayor of Bristol, is a major backer of the Enterprise Zone.
He said: "Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone in the heart of the city offers an exciting and unique investment opportunity that businesses will not find anywhere else in the country."
The zone covers 70 hectares in the city centre and is a real mixed landscape at that, including Temple Meads station, the modern business area of Temple Quay, the more industrial Silverthorne Lane and the Avon Riverside corridor alongside Bath Road to the creative Paintworks site.
The project is being led by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, Bristol City Council, the Homes and Communities Agency and Network Rail.
The 25 year ambition is to regenerate the area and create a new, superbly connected entry to Bristol and a hub specialising in the creative, high tech and low carbon industries.
Temple Quarter is already home to more than 350 businesses. Next to the railway station, Temple Studios and Bristol & Exeter House are described as a creative and digital campus and have already attracted 32 like-minded businesses into their quirky space.
The Engine Shed in Brunel's Old Station, currently undergoing a £1.5 million redevelopment in a partnership between the city council and University of Bristol, will also soon become a creative and high-tech hub.
Evidence that there is a growing confidence in the area has been shown by Salmon Harvester Properties, who recently announced the first speculative building project in the city for four years.
Work is due to start in the summer on the 100,000 sq ft, £35 million office development at Two Glass Wharf.
Meanwhile at Paintworks, Verve Properties have planning permission for Phase III of their scheme.Work has now started on a unique proposition called the Creative Skills Hub, which will be housed alongside the business teams in the Enterprise Zone.
It's a co-ordinating centre with the simple aim of getting the best talent for the digital, film, TV, design and advertising companies into sustainable jobs within one of the fastest-growing sectors in the area.
It's come about through a collaboration between the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and Creative Skillset, the national body supporting skills across a huge range of businesses from film to fashion and music.
The aim is to connect aspiring, talented and committed young people to a set of pathways, whether that involves apprenticeship, internship, college, university – or none of them. The landscape is changing fast and many companies recognise the value of new thinking, first-hand experience and energy – we're after the "digital natives".
Even in a growing sector, there are still far more people who want to work in creative businesses than jobs available, so it's very competitive, but the hub will help connect the best talent to the opportunities, open up companies, provide teachers and academics with industry refreshers, and generally lively up the process.
And as communication through social media or other means become more important to other businesses, more opportunities will appear.
As reported in the Bristol Post TCN has been named Business of the Year in the Enterprise Zone. The award was handed out at the annual Bristol Post Business Awards by the Local Enterprise Partnership.
The firm is a young and innovative company with a distinctive corporate culture. It regenerates property into vibrant and inspiring places for people to work and live.
In short it sums up the spirit of the Enterprise Zone
TCN started out in the European real estate market in 1994 and holds an asset portfolio with a value of 410 million euros. TCN has projects in the Netherlands, Germany, UK, Spain and Austria.
Their development in Temple Quarter fits perfectly with the ambitions of the Enterprise Zone to make it a centre for creative and digital businesses.
Temple Gate in Bristol is a 2.8-acre site located next to Temple Meads. They are master-planning what they call an Urban Village, including contemporary warehouse style offices, a highly designed boutique serviced office building along with retail, restaurant and leisure facilities. Their business spaces are primarily aimed at the creative and digital sectors and Phase 1 has seen the refurbishment of Bristol & Exeter House, which offers small to medium sized businesses the opportunity to locate themselves in this stunning building.
The quirky Temple Studios opened last month and between these two buildings, there are about 32 businesses based here, creating a hub of activity with like-minded firms.
Meanwhile, a £7 million creative and digital business campus has been officially opened by George Ferguson.
Richard Pearce, managing director for TCN UK, says: "Back in 2008 we analysed the markets and realised Bristol has an innovative and creative demographic similar to Amsterdam, Utrecht and parts of London. Since then, we have invested around £7 million redeveloping firstly Bristol and Exeter House and now Temple Studios, and we already have 32 businesses installed there.
"Temple Studios targets creative and digital companies, offering a unique office environment with a raw, industrial design and desirable extras, such as a large breakout area for like-minded businesses to connect and interact."
The entrance to the studios on the ground floor sets the scene for the whole building, with the reception housed in a shipping container. Throughout the building are exposed surfaces, stripped floors and walls, retro toilets and quirky signage.
The Space is a large breakout area for companies and individuals to meet and collaborate, share a coffee and even a game of table tennis. Plans for the final phase of the site include a new £13 million office development know as One Bristol, targeted at the TMT sector along with a 120 bed hotel and ancillary retail.
Mr Pearce said: "One Bristol is designed for the media and digital generation with an industrial feel, exposed services, high ceilings and great natural light.
"Quoting rents will be 20 per cent below the more traditional competition and occupiers have flexibility on fit-out options starting from shell and core."
Mr Ferguson added: "In the last few years, Bristol has seen rapid growth in the areas of creative and digital business and can now consider itself as a leader in the UK's creative economy.
"TCN UK were quick to recognise this and their development right in the heart of Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone fits perfectly with the kind of businesses we're trying to attract there. We are delighted they have chosen to invest here.
"They've created a very desirable and different workspace and already attracted a whole host of dynamic organisations in there.
"There's a real buzz and energy here now, which is only going to serve to attract even more businesses. Bristol already has the most successful economy of any city outside of London and the success of the Enterprise Zone is key to the ongoing prosperity of the whole of the city and region."
Businesses that have moved into Temple Studios have also included advertising agency Saint Nicks and design firm Hype & Slippers.