A LOCAL councillor has called for more action to fill Forres Enterprise Park.
Moray Councillor Claire Feaver told September’s meeting of Forres Community Council (FCC) that the facility’s vacant space is a missed opportunity.
She said: “I was surprised and disappointed to hear that it is only one third full.
“Owners Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) have very specific criteria for prospective tenants.
“They appear to look at companies from a national perspective first, then regional, then local.”
FCC chairman Graham Hilditch added: “They are very selective about who they let up there and the units are very expensive. Forres is the worst town in Moray for available industrial units.”
Cllr Feaver believes the cause for the lack of tenants is likely to be for a combination of factors including cost, promotion and location.
The economic development and infrastructure committee member explained: “The advantages of Moray as a business location are not sufficiently understood in the market place. Forres is a great place with many advantages for the investor and we have some very successful small businesses but how many of the people making investment decisions are aware of that?”
The Enterprise Park extends over 100 acres with a range of flexible business units aimed at incubating fledgling businesses. Around 30 acres have been developed so far. There is currently one unoccupied building and space previously occupied by Glasgow School of Art in the business and innovation centre, Horizon Scotland, designed to facilitate collaboration and inspire innovation.
However, a HIE spokesman pointed out that between 400 and 500 people are now based at the site east of Forres.
He said: “The park is designed to attract manufacturing, technology and knowledge-based companies, in line with Scotland’s Economic Strategy. We are advised by our agents on appropriate rental charges - these are market-driven and comparable to similar properties in the area.
“While it may be possible to find lower rent properties these are unlikely to be in such an attractive location or of such high quality.
“Marketing of the available space is ongoing through trade media and online, and we continue to receive enquiries and notes of interest from commercial entities.”