The Airport Business Park is a joint venture between Southend Council and property developer HBD
Costa Coffee has been given a year’s free rent at Southend’s new £90 million ($113.28 million) Airport Business Park, it has been revealed.
Southend Council claims such arrangements are normal when firms face big fitting out costs, but Tories believe it illustrates a wider issue in attracting big business.
The Airport Business Park is a joint venture between Southend Council and property developer HBD.
Aircraft seating manufacturer Ipeco was the first commercial occupier, moving into a 124,000 sq ft purpose-built base in July 2020, but much of the park remains empty. The Costa drive-thru opened six months ago.
Tony Cox, leader of Southend Conservatives, said: I think this shows an inability to get big firms into Southend.
The business park is mostly empty. I think it’s part of a wider issue and its total ineptitude for getting enough businesses in, he said.
Ian Gilbert, Labour leader of Southend Council, denounced the Tories’ view, adding: I do not agree the council has an issue drawing in big firms.
The council does a very good job at encouraging investment into the town. We are progressing plans such as the Better Queensway development with the new homes, he said.
We also have big names such as Travelodge, Empire Cinema and Hollywood Bowl signed up for the new Seaways leisure development, he said.
Alan Richards, Southend Council’s interim executive director for growth and housing, said: The business park has already and will continue to create more local employment and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs, for local businesses to expand and for new businesses to invest. This is all vital in our Covid recovery.
He said: Costa is a great occupier to secure at the entrance to the business park and is trading well. As part of the lease negotiation, a 12-month rent free period was agreed.