Agenda item


o  Key updates from Partners


The Vice-Chairman informed members of the Partnership that London Biggin Hill Airport (LBHA) had recently undertaken a stakeholder survey. Feedback received had included:

-  Demand for accommodation on site;

-  The need to have good, high quality welfare facilities to accommodate staff during the week;

-  Mobile phone reception, digital connectivity and data capability for broadband;

-  Public transport, staff bus service, and challenges in terms of reliable airport taxi services;

-  Training facilities – Bombardier working with Marshall Skills Academy to provide apprenticeships and proposals for a building to be converted into a training centre for jobs needed on the airport site; and,

-  The need for companies to work sustainably.


A visiting Member noted that a ‘Futures Week’ had recently been held at London Biggin Hill Airport – this had been attended by 14–18-year-olds, who had visited LBHA to experience the job opportunities that could be available to them in the future. Over 100 applications had been received from children living in the borough – this highlighted the need for a training centre which allowed children to take up opportunities to learn skills for the future. It was considered that children needed to be encouraged to aspire to these types of roles much earlier, and become aware of the opportunities offered within the borough. Lee Thomas – Fairlight Group highlighted that the work undertaken to planes on site was also a good story to tell – the businesses using these industrial units would stay and spend money within the local area. The Vice-Chairman noted that electric aviation would allow planes to become quieter and highlighted the need for ensuring that the borough maximised its opportunities.


Mark Haynes – The Glades advised that they were seeing shoppers return. Footfall in the shopping centre had been buoyant with around 1.5m visitors each month for the last three months which was 20%, 25% and 12% up on the previous year – these increases were ahead of the published industry figures, which was extremely positive. There had been lots of interest from retailers looking to open stores within the shopping centre. Recent openings included Mint Velvet, Itsu, NHS Vaccination Centre and Lulu’s. Nike would be opening a store during the first week of December, and early next year Bread Ahead, two high-end watch retailers and a shoe brand would be opening stores too. There had also been further interest from ladies’ beauty and leisure and fitness operators.


Frances Forrest – Your Bromley BID Company said that a number of new businesses had opened on Bromley High Street and in The Mall. Footfall in the town centre was up, and people felt positive and optimistic.


Chris Travers – Orpington 1st BID Company advised that footfall in Orpington Town Centre was fairly good following a decent summer period. The occupancy rate was strong, in line with the Greater London average and above the national average. It was anticipated that the winter period would be challenging with a bigger hit to consumer spending power and higher costs for businesses. The tenants of the Walnuts Shopping Centre, and businesses in the immediate surrounding area, “were in limbo” but it was positive that they were committed to the town centre and were planning to stay. Orpington 1st BID Company represented the businesses, and they considered that the site needed to be regenerated, and would continue to consult with them if plans came forward. Members of the Partnership were informed that Orpington 1st BID Company had secured a ‘yes’ vote for their third 5-year term, which would start from April 2023.


Chandra Sharma, representing the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) informed members that the Local Government Awards had been held recently and Lewisham Council had won the local and national awards for COVID-19 Support and Recovery. The FSB Local Leadership document had been circulated to all London borough Councils and key highlights from the FSB Small Business Index report were shared (a copy of the full report is attached at Appendix C) including:

-  Small business confidence was the lowest on record outside of lockdown.

-  89% of small businesses reported higher costs and ambition for growth was falling, with only 47% aspiring to grow over the next 12 months.

-  Only 45% of financial applications for accessing funds were successful during quarter 2.

-  Confidence was lowest in the wholesale/retail sector, followed by the manufacturing and construction sectors.

-  London had a 32% low confidence rating.

Issues regarding the Bromley Business Hub website were raised in terms of it being kept up to date and difficult to navigate. The Chairman requested that feedback be provided directly to the LBB Head of Economic Development. It was noted that funding would be coming forward and used to maintain the website.


Lee Thomas – Fairlight Group advised that in terms of flexible work space it was challenging, with low demand. This was due to a combination of some businesses doing well during the pandemic and outgrowing the space, and other businesses folding. Demand for Grade A offices space in Bromley was strong with lots of enquiries being received, however there was a worry for the market in general if stock was not available for 2024.


Russell Clarke – Sundridge Investments Limited considered that, economically, businesses would struggle over the next few months. They had not seen the transition of the offices they let becoming vacant, but some businesses were struggling more than others.


Christopher Evans – Community Links Bromley advised that a briefing note would be circulated to members of the Partnership following the meeting, and is attached at Appendix D.


Carol Arnfield – LBB Head of Service for Early Years, School Standards and Adult Education informed members that the Adult Education Service was already connected with the Local London network and would be focussing on delivering employability skills for adults with special educational needs (SEN). A provision was also now being delivered at Bromley Central Library, working with adults who had English as a second language to prepare them for entering employment. It was noted that Bromley Adult Education College had recently recruited an Employability and Digital Skills Manager who would contribute to the curriculum from spring 2023.


Mike Humphries – Handelsbanken advised that business was very “up and down”. Interest rates would have an impact, and the next 12 months would be tough, however there may be opportunities when they came out the other side. Demand for borrowing had generally reduced – many were used to interest rates being artificially low and it would be challenging for people when their fixed rate mortgages came to an end.


RESOLVED that the updates be noted.