Despite the national media reporting that times are still very difficult for industry and businesses; over the last month the number of companies we have registered with us indicates that either the Governments’ prediction is right, in that 2013 will see an improvement or they are companies which have already started to grow and expand.

This is quite encouraging in that the recovery does seem to be coming from small businesses, the evidence for which seems apparent from the enquiries for small industrial units. On Hoo Farm, having let 27 industrial units for over 30 years, the number of units let and the enquiry for these has always in the past given a fair indication as to the state of the local economy. These starter units either single or double units are an ideal place for businesses to grow and lettings at the moment are being very successfully completed.

We have also noted that over the last month enquiries for larger industrial units from companies outside the area have started to increase, but the availability of larger units is limited, other than former carpet factory premises; some of which have a limited life because of long term plans for redevelopment.

The business community in the Wyre Forest Area can now look forward to hopefully a period of sustained gradual growth as opposed to recession, which should also in time improve the market for small offices and benefit the retail trades.

Unfortunately the black spot still seems to be the town centre area of Kidderminster. Like many local authorities the pattern of retailing has changed dramatically. The introduction of residential accommodation into what were formally business premises is clearly the way that some owners are hoping to progress the development of their property. Some offices and shops have now been empty for some considerable time and there is little prospect of buyers or tenants being found, therefore alternative uses need to be considered.

With a flexible approach from the planning authority and the need to introduce life back into Kidderminster Town Centre, we should start to see a marked improvement but the change will take time to be implemented. Government reports indicate that there are very high numbers of people on local authority housing waiting lists and judging by our offices, the demand for residential rental accommodation is at an all-time high.

It is good to be able to report that this month an improvement in the local economic situation is leading to greater occupancy, but the recovery is fragile and it is impossible at this stage to say whether it will be sustained. Levels of occupancy of shops in Stourport and Bewdley are good and we have recently let shops shortly after they were vacated by previous occupiers. With shops now being occupied in readiness for the Christmas trading period and with incentives from Wyre Forest District Council for business rate free periods, these businesses hopefully will succeed.