St Albans scores in UK top ten for future economic growth prospects

View over St Albans City centre

View over St Albans City centre - Credit: Archant

St Albans has the potential for a year of economic growth, according to a new business report.

Lambert Smith Hampton’s latest UK Vitality Index reveals that the city has placed seventh in this year’s report.

The index assesses the UK’s largest towns and cities outside London to provide a health check of their local economies and identify which are most robust, are best positioned to support growth and will provide the greatest opportunities for businesses to expand.

The results are based on the analysis of 20 datasets, with each location ranked within six separate categories: most productive, fastest growing, most entrepreneurial, best educated, greenest and rising affluence.

Cambridge comes out top, with Brighton, Oxford, Reading, Guildford and Bristol placing above St Albans in the report.

St Albans did particularly well in the ‘growing affluence’ index where it was placed first, seeing one of the fastest rates of growth in average house prices over the last three years.

The city also performed strongly in the ‘fastest growing’ index, coming joint second along with Cambridge.

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This index measures a combination of population, growth in economic output and commercial property rental data to show which UK regional towns and cities have seen the fastest rate of growth over recent years.

Finally, the city shared top ranking in the ‘most entrepreneurial index’. This looks at a combination of business density, number of new enterprises and GVA per capita to assess which towns and cities in the UK provide the best environment for business start-ups.

While the city placed slightly lower than last year’s sixth place, it did achieve a higher score compared to last year and is still considered to be one of the best locations outside London to support economic expansion over the next 12 months.

Nigel Palmer, head of Lambert Smith Hampton’s Hertfordshire office said: “With its excellent transport links to London and beyond, along with a skilled local workforce, it is unsurprising that St Albans is popular with businesses.

“As we have highlighted previously however, important measures are now needed to sustain this, with a balance between housing and employment provision necessary to maintain the attraction of the city.

“While growing house prices are a positive sign of the city’s affluence, affordable housing is also important to ensure local businesses can easily recruit, as is more office space.”

The Herts Advertiser has reported on the increased number of offices being converted into homes, which Mr Palmer notes as a problem.

“Currently there is limited choice for businesses seeking relocation in St Albans. This is likely to remain the case, with no space being built and little sign that any sizeable offices are set to come back to the market, which will drive increases in both rental and capital values.”

June Cory, vice president of St Albans Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the report: “We are delighted that our great city has been shortlisted again in the UK Vitality Index and are proud of the success that the businesses in our vibrant and active community have achieved.

“St Albans is home to many quality hotels and restaurants and together with strong financial, legal, marketing and digital verticals the district boasts a solid cross section of commercial opportunities for organisations of all sizes.”