Following reports today that Northern Ireland is to consider introducing ‘Enterprise Zones’, Colliers International comments on the likely impact of an economic plan that would include the creation of enterprise zones.

Bill Kennedy, Managing Director of Belfast Office said: “The creation of Enterprise Zones within Northern Ireland would deliver positive returns for both the local property market and wider economy, reports Colliers International.

“The competitiveness of the “NI plc” offer would be enhanced as the designation would create a comparable offer to other UK locations with EZ status, all of whom are competing for the same Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Projects as Northern Ireland.”

In terms of property specifically, Kennedy explains: “The lack of Grade A office space and speculative office development within Belfast City Centre may also be addressed through the creation of an Enterprise Zones, the availability of rates relief / a fast track planning process etc would assist in making marginal development projects more viable.”

“Northern Ireland has been very successful in recent times in securing major FDI Projects, however we are aware of a number of outstanding requirements from major global occupational clients which cannot be satisfied due to the current lack of built space.  If Northern Ireland is to continue growing the local economy via attracting new major FDI Projects and facilitating the growth of existing occupiers high quality business space must be provided. Enterprise Zone status can only act as a catalyst in the delivery of this space.

Colliers International believes that both indigenous and global occupational occupiers would respond positively to Enterprise Zone locations offering:

  • Financial benefits – which include rates relief and enhanced capital allowances for investment in plant and machinery.
  • A straightforward planning process - Enterprise Zones have a can-do attitude to planning through the use of simplified planning procedures, removing a barrier seen by many to business entry in NI – locating on an Enterprise Zone could save you time and money.
  • Business-ready infrastructure - Enterprise Zones are developed with business in mind – this means you can look forward to features like superfast broadband and easy access to motorways, rail, airports or ports.

Andy Delaney, a Director in Development Consulting and Agency at Colliers International adds: 

“The Government has been criticised over the lack of progress that has been made in Enterprise Zones in England; and this paucity of development activity would seem to indicate that the actual benefits of such a zone will not clinch a deal in themselves.  However, the simple fact is that if one is available, Northern Ireland should grasp the opportunity. 

“As economic growth eventually returns, it can only add to the fantastic story that has been developed by the business friendly Northern Ireland Executive and more companies, such as the New York Stock Exchange, Citibank and Allen & Overy, may choose to invest in the province.  In addition to this, Scotland and Wales already have Enterprise Zones in place (albeit with slow progress again) and NI may as well equip itself with the equivalent raw materials.”