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Gloucestershire 2050: Bold vision to transform the region

PUBLISHED: 15:05 13 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:05 13 February 2018

Gloucestershire 2050 - The Big Launch at the Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse (c) Antony Thompson / TWM

Gloucestershire 2050 - The Big Launch at the Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse (c) Antony Thompson / TWM

© Thousand Word Media

“Together, we can secure a brighter future for everyone in our county,” said a spokesman for the project

Gloucestershire’s civic leaders have unveiled ambitious new plans for the region in a vision for 2050 which aims to catapult the county on to the international stage.

Eight key ambitions for the future of Gloucestershire and six major projects to transform the county’s image have been announced following an exhibition attended by more than 500 people at Cheltenham Racecourse.

It is being driven by Leadership Gloucestershire, a partnership between the area’s public sector bodies, including the University of Gloucestershire.

The Big Launch also kick-started a six-month ‘conversation’ with the public to collect their ideas about how to transform the county’s towns and cities.

One, prosperous family-oriented super-city combining Gloucester and Cheltenham and a new bridge across the River Severn between Lydney and Sharpness are among six major proposals, which also include creating a National Cyber Security Park to develop skills, create jobs and grow businesses, building on the success of the world-renowned National Cyber Security Centre at GCHQ.

Gloucestershire 2050 also wants to create a new Cotswold International Airport to increase tourist flights and promote drone technology; commission a wholesale redesign of Cotswold Waterpark, including the development of a five-star hotel, and create three culturally significant, regional parks out of the Cotswolds, Forest of Dean and Severn Vale.

“As we look ahead to 2050, there are some key challenges holding the county back,” said a spokesman for the project.

“Every year, 400 young adults leave the area to study or work. This significant loss of talent creates a skills gap with many companies struggling to fill vacancies.

“We need to make Gloucestershire a great place for everyone to live.”

Comparing the county with neighbouring Bristol, which attracts 4,000 more young people than it loses every year, means that by 2039, Gloucestershire would be home to almost 80,000 more over-65s than it has currently, yet only 7,000 more 18-64-year-olds.

Housing shortages, an ageing population, climate change and concern over deprived areas prompted civic and business leaders to start the discussion to create a “distinctive, inclusive, sustainable and vibrant” county with a great quality of life.

The growth in science and construction sectors, along with cyber, agri-tech and advanced manufacturing and engineering, were marked as strengths on which to build.

Out of this came the six major infrastructure projects to help build a 2050 vision for Gloucestershire and eight ambitions - for Gloucestershire to be a magnet, innovative, skilled, prosperous, inclusive, healthy and happy, connected and sustainable.

The aim is to grow the working age population, keeping and attracting more 18 to 40-year-olds with high-level skills; a greater push towards research and innovation; a rise in the standard of living, with social benefits felt by all; improved transport and internet connections and a more efficient use of resources and sustainable energy.

“Together, we can secure a brighter future for everyone in our county,” the spokesman added.

Between now and the end of July, a programme of engagement and consultation activities aims to persuade as many people as possible to take part in conversations about the vision.

At the end of the process, a report summarising the key themes will be published.

Six projects:

Super-city - grow and regeneration Gloucester and Cheltenham by developing a third centre connecting the two communities

Cyber park - development of National Cyber Security Park dedicated to cyber-related business and education development

Regional parks - designation of Cotswolds, Forest of Dean and Severn Vale as regional parks, creating wetlands for flood management

Lydney-Sharpness - create multi-purpose river crossing to attract investment and development to the Forest of Dean, as well as Cheltenham and Gloucester

Cotswold Airport - attract more air travel to facilitate higher-value tourism, enhanced transport links and as a base for drone technology

Eight ambitions:

Magnet - growing working age population by attracting qualified 18-40-year-olds

Innovative - more businesses starting up, growing and investing in R&D

Skilled - more people with high-level skills and skilled jobs

Prosperous - rising productivity and household income and higher living standards

Inclusive - economic and social benefits of growth to be felt by all

Healthy & happy - good work/life balance with improved health and wellbeing

Connected - improved transport and internet connections so people and businesses can connect with each other more easily

Sustainable - more efficient use of resources and more sustainable energy

Visit www.glos2050.com to take part in the Big Conversation consultation.

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