An occupancy rate more than 90% for Angus Council’s commercial portfolio has been hailed as a “fantastic” start to the area’s economic performance for 2019.
Data for the December to February period has shown floor space occupancy in local authority properties sits at 93%, after the arrival of a clutch of new tenants.
They include the deal which has seen Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre take up residence in one of Major Burke’s sheds – the internationally-significant A-listed hangars on the site of the former First World War air station.
Economic development chiefs are also currently handling four other letting instructions for business units across the district, with two new applications also being pursued.
The promising picture was reported to Angus policy and resources committee councillors by strategic policy and economy service leader Alison Smith, who also highlighted a multi-million pound investment by leading preserves manufacturer Mackays.
“They have taken over a large warehouse owned by Angus Council to expand their business given growth in demand for their locally-produced products and increased sales from overseas,” she said.
“This will result in them investing an estimated £2.5 million in the facility and new jobs being created.”
A planning application has also come forward from a national developer for 16 starter units at Orchardbank Business Park in Forfar, close to the council headquarters and councillors heard the sale contract for the land is being progressed subject to planning approval.
Forfar Conservative councillor Braden Davy said the high occupancy figure was a shot in the arm for the council and the area.
“This is partly achieved by the targeted and flexible approach working with key sectors supporting businesses for growth,” he said.
“Income has risen 13% over the past two years and the number of jobs supported is now over 1,000.
“At a time of reduced spending, I am very pleased to see this fantastic start to the year.”
Council funding officers were also praised for their key role in helping Montrose Playhouse project secure £2.26m of Scottish Government funding for the ambitious scheme to create a multi-screen cinema and community hub in the town’s former swimming pool.
Montrose SNP councillor Bill Duff said: “They put a lot of work into that and this is a good result.”
Council finance official Ian Lorimer admitted, however, that the authority is working to address a shortage of legal staff to help progress deals more swiftly.
“It is fair to say that the legal resources are fairly stretched,” he said.
“We recognised within the budget that would be an area that needed some investment so we will be kicking off recruitment of those resources as quickly as we can.”