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Council filling its business units

By Lorna Thompson

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MORAY Council has hit above its target in attracting tenants for its business units.

More than 90 per cent of the local authority’s business units are occupied, outperforming its 80 per cent aim and generating additional income of £174,000 in the last financial year.

A report for the economic development and infrastructure committee said rental income generated by the council’s industrial portfolio had increased by £883,000 in the last decade, reaching £1.9 million in 2018-19.

However, a warning was issued that budget constraints were hampering further development of the portfolio.

Some 30 new business units have been built in the last decade, including a major extension of March Road Industrial Estate, in Buckie.

The council’s industrial portfolio comprises 176 industrial buildings, 128 development and ground leases, and serviced and unserviced land for future development of 55 acres.

Councillor Graham Leadbitter said it was positive to see such a high occupancy rate of council industrial units.
Councillor Graham Leadbitter said it was positive to see such a high occupancy rate of council industrial units.

Chairman of the committee, Councillor Graham Leadbitter, said: "Our industrial portfolio plays a vital role in promoting economic growth by providing affordable, fit-for-purpose business premises for lease by a range of organisations across Moray.

"We’ll continue to monitor performance and explore opportunities to acquire and develop land and buildings.

"It’s positive to see such a high occupancy rate and I’m encouraged to hear that this trend for high occupancy levels is set to continue."

The report did, however, highlight concerns in maintaining an adequate supply of affordable premises in appropriate locations within Moray.

The committee also heard that the council’s current budget pressures were limiting opportunities to further develop the portfolio. Although providing serviced sites has been made a priority, particularly in Forres and Speyside, work has been put on hold until the council reaches a firmer financial footing and capital spending restraints can be lifted.

The report warned that lack of capital or revenue investment in the future could result in a lack of suitable units and sites to meet business needs – stifling Moray's economic growth.

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