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No one left behind: Hertfordshire’s good growth story

Herts Sustainable Families Highly Commended in Excellence in Recycling & Waste Management Award

Hertfordshire Growth Board: Celebrating forests as catalysts for biodiversity, wellbeing and travel

Goodbye Hollywood, hello Hertfordshire – the new moviemaking capital

Hertfordshire Growth Board launches shared vision for sustainable future

Progress Report April 2022 – December 2023 Now Available

County-wide survey calls on public to have a say on the future of Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire is proactively encouraging the growth of new, low carbon industries

Hertfordshire LEP celebrate a decade of delivery

Contracts complete for £171m investment in Harlow Gilston Garden Town

Hertfordshire is known for its lush green landscapes, rich history, and idyllic garden towns and villages, but it is also a major engine for UK growth. From a booming multi-million movie industry to a world-leading cell and gene sector centred in the golden triangle, Hertfordshire boasts an economy that is larger than many city regions.  It’s this quality of life and access to a thriving economy that attracts residents from all walks of life to locate here.

The Hertfordshire Growth Board has already set its vision and missions, taking a unified approach with leaders from the county, district, and borough councils, as well as the NHS, Police and business. From new employment opportunities and quality and sustainable homes, to healthy places that are well connected for the digital age with a sustainable transport infrastructure, the Growth Board has ambitious plans and is ready to work closely with the new Government and MPs.

I’ve been Chief Executive of St Albans City and District Council since 2017 and I’ve overseen various projects, including new sports and cultural centres in Harpenden, and a cycling and community hub in St Albans. I’ve also been involved in developing a seven-acre site in the heart of St Albans and the Strategic Local Plan for housing and development.

Naturally my ambitions for St Albans play a major part of my involvement in the Hertfordshire Growth Board where I’ve led on setting up aspects of the Transport mission. I’d like to see public transport better joined up regionally, particularly east to west. That would require a whole county approach and will need input from central Government to make it happen.

Hertfordshire’s growth potential

We have a strong track record of innovation, with leading clusters in space and defence – responsible for a third of the world’s satellites, built in Stevenage – and the county is Europe’s top cell and gene cluster. Yet a short drive down the A1 in Elstree and Borehamwood, and Watford we’re at the centre of the UK’s film production industry that’s set to rival Hollywood.

Our proximity at the centre of the golden triangle between London, Oxford and Cambridge is what gives us the edge, and in Hertfordshire we have the luxury of affordable key development sites for large organisations to set up shop and invest.

But it’s not just about big business because our town centres and high streets are bustling with independent shops and cafes. It’s these local businesses, run by local people that help to keep us fuelled and they’re part of the reason why so many visitors come.

Transforming transport

Our transport infrastructure has always been a hot topic but we’re eager to improve our public transport links as well as build on our existing active travel networks.

One standout example is HertsLynx which acts a bit differently to your traditional bus service. It operates in North Herts, East Herts and Dacorum, and doesn’t follow the usual bus timetable. Instead, passengers can use an app to choose a pick-up and drop-off point. This has been popular with residents and a welcome improvement.

Working with a new Government

A change of administration offers the opportunity to reset our relationship with Government. Our biggest priority is to work collaboratively to showcase what makes Hertfordshire unique, so that our asks to Government come with an offer from us that evidences a return which supports the country at large.

Hertfordshire is an engine of growth with £42bn GVA pa. We contribute more to UK plc than many city regions.

As well as our strong track record of innovation, with leading defence, space, and biosciences’ sectors, we pioneered the first garden cities and new towns, and councils locally are already committed to building thousands of additional new homes and generating new jobs in the next 10 years.

But we are facing barriers to further growth. The new Government could unlock these through a strong devolution deal so we can tailor interventions to the needs of residents and businesses.

We must ensure economic growth is inclusive and sustainable; that we get high quality, sustainable housing growth in the right places; and that we protect our outstanding natural landscapes including our globally significant chalk streams.

To do this, we need more funding and local powers over skills, business support, regeneration, housing and strategic planning, transport, sustainability, energy, and digital infrastructure.

Making an impact

The Growth Board and our partners have come a long way in the last 12-18 months. The Hertfordshire Economic Board has already launched a Hertfordshire Film Office which works with film and TV creatives, and major studios globally to secure suitable shooting locations in the county. This is a service that the industry has welcomed with open arms and makes it easier and faster for studio execs to scout locations and get filming.

Invest Hertfordshire, which is the county’s new inward investment service, promotes development and opportunity sites in the county so that businesses can make easy decisions on where to locate or invest.

We have also secured additional Government funding for Hertfordshire, targeting the roll-out of Full Fibre coverage to around 7,000 premises in hard-to-reach and rural areas of the county.

To strengthen our role as planning authorities, I’ve started work on improving planning resilience in the county so that we can better meet the growth needs of the county.

Hertfordshire is open for investment and is ready to work with Government and other funding partners to secure deals and drive inclusive growth for the benefit of our residents, communities, and businesses.

WasteAware’s “Herts Sustainable Families” discount scheme, offered as part of the county’s Waste Partnership has been highly-commended in the “Best Local Authority Recycling Initiative” category at the prestigious Awards for Excellence in Recycling & Waste Management.

The Awards for Excellence in Recycling & Waste Management celebrate outstanding achievements and innovative initiatives in the field of recycling and waste management. The recognition of Herts Sustainable Families underscores the council’s commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship.

The trio of schemes within the Herts Sustainable Families banner encourage residents to choose reusable items instead of single use products by offering a 15% discount on reusable nappies, sustainable period products and washable incontinence products. Around 2,500 residents have already taken advantage of the scheme, purchasing items from across 19 suppliers, including local companies, major retailers and brand leaders.

Receiving a high commendation recognises the exemplary leadership demonstrated by the WasteAware team and dedication to promoting waste reduction initiatives within Hertfordshire. Through collaborative efforts and community engagement, the initiative has successfully provided free period products to those in financial hardship and engaged in training for 56 teachers on the benefits of sustainable period products, ensuring they included as mainstream options when menstruation is discussed in school. Two further training dates are booked for June.

Cllr Richard Roberts, Leader of Hertfordshire County Council said:
“We are thrilled to be highly commended in the ‘Best Local Authority Recycling Initiative’ award. This recognition is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team and the support of our community. We are committed to continuing our efforts to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly Hertfordshire.”

The success of Herts Sustainable Families campaign highlights the importance of local authority initiatives in driving positive environmental change and promoting sustainable practices amongst residents. By promoting education, awareness, and practical solutions, the initiative has contributed significantly to the county’s efforts to minimise waste and drive reusable options as a standard way of living to protect the environment for future generations.

Hertfordshire Waste Partnership’s Herts Sustainable Families continues to lead by example in promoting recycling and waste management best practices, inspiring communities to embrace sustainability, and making a meaningful impact on the environment.

Cllr Eric Buckmaster, Executive Member for Environment, Hertfordshire County Council said: “It’s so good to see the progress being made in this particular area of activity and the success of the team in promoting awareness and benefits of these sustainable products.”

For more information about the Herts Sustainable Families discount, WasteAware and its initiatives, visit:
www.wasteaware.org.uk/families 

As the world marks the International Day of Forests on March 21, Hertfordshire stands proud as a testament to the integral relationship between nature and mental wellbeing. The county’s lush green spaces, from ancient woodlands to sprawling parks, not only harbour rich biodiversity but also serve as sanctuaries for mental wellness and advocates for active travel.

Hertfordshire’s forests, such as the Ashridge Estate, Heartwood Forest, and Cassiobury Park, are invaluable reservoirs of biodiversity. Hertfordshire’s diverse landscape boasts a myriad of green spaces, ranging from expansive woodlands to urban parks, each playing a vital role in supporting biodiversity. These green corridors serve as habitats for a rich tapestry of flora and fauna, preserving the county’s natural heritage and enhancing its ecological resilience. Through strategic planning and sustainable development, the Hertfordshire Growth Board is committed to safeguarding these green assets, ensuring their continued protection and enhancement for future generations to enjoy.

In addition to their ecological significance, Hertfordshire’s green spaces offer huge benefits for good mental health and wellbeing, providing residents with opportunities for relaxation, recreation, and rejuvenation amidst nature’s tranquillity. Research has shown that spending as little as 20 minutes a day in green environments can alleviate stress, improve mood, and enhance overall mental health. As a Growth Board mission – Healthy and Safe Places for All – the Hertfordshire Growth Board understands the importance of incorporating green infrastructure into urban planning initiatives, creating vibrant and inclusive spaces that promote wellbeing and quality of life for all.

Furthermore, Hertfordshire’s green spaces serve as catalysts for active travel, encouraging residents and visitors to embrace sustainable modes of transportation while enjoying the county’s natural beauty. From scenic walking and cycling routes to green corridors connecting urban centres, these initiatives promote physical activity, reduce carbon emissions, and enhance the overall health and vitality of our communities. By investing in active travel infrastructure and promoting environmentally conscious transportation options, the Hertfordshire Growth Board aims to create a more sustainable and resilient transportation network that meets the needs of both current and future generations.

 


 

Forogh Rahmani, Director of the Hertfordshire Growth Board, said: “As we mark the International Day of Forests, we celebrate Hertfordshire’s green spaces as invaluable assets that contribute to the health, prosperity, and wellbeing of our residents and communities. Through collaborative efforts and forward-thinking initiatives, we are committed to preserving and enhancing these green corridors, ensuring that Hertfordshire remains a vibrant and sustainable place to live, work, and thrive.”

 


 

To read more about Hertfordshire Growth Board’s Vision and Missions.
Vision and Missions

For enquiries contact Luke Fisher, Senior Campaigns Officer.
Email

 

Hertfordshire is now the number one destination in the UK for film and TV – and with the 96th Academy Awards taking place this Sunday it is clear to see why major movie moguls are choosing the county as the place to make movie magic.

With its stunning countryside, sprawling mansions and a plethora of heritage sites, Hertfordshire is often seen on screen in the movies. However, it’s the production magic that takes place across the five major studios situated in the county that is helping propel the county of opportunity into a golden era of film making – Elstree Studios, Warner Bros Studio Leavesden (WBSL), Sky Studios, BBC Studioworks and the newest proposal Sunset Studios in Broxbourne.

Two of the top three performers at the UK and Ireland box office were produced at WBSL, which is situated just outside Watford. According to the British Film Institute (BFI), Barbie earned £95.6m in box office revenue, while Wonka starring Timothée Chalamet and Olivia Colman came in third, grossing £58.4m. This has made the county the economic hub for the filming of many of today’s biggest TV shows and Oscar nominated movies.

Partnerships through the Hertfordshire Growth Board, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), district and borough councils and the Hertfordshire Film Office is testament to how Hertfordshire County Council is working with the creative sector to make it easier to do business here.


Cllr Jeremy Newmark, Leader of Hertsmere Borough Council and Chair of Elstree Studios, said: “These are exciting times for the film and TV industry and, here in Hertsmere, we are right in the heart of the buzz! 

“Within a short distance of our Civic Offices in Borehamwood are the council-owned Elstree Studios; BBC Elstree where Eastenders is based and Sky Studios Elstree where they’ve recently been filming the new Wicked movie.  Positioned right in between is Elstree Screen Academy where talented young people are honing their skills across a whole range of disciplines and we hope that many will go on to work in the industry in the future. 

“Of course the contribution this makes to our local economy is substantial as well as the opportunities it brings for local jobs.

“More broadly it is exciting to be working with partners across Hertfordshire to promote and support the industry.”


Not only is Hertfordshire the paramount pick for studio time but it is also a thriving centre of educational excellence with the Elstree Screen Arts Academy (ESA) and the University of Hertfordshire producing the next generation of home-grown film makers.

Students at ESA can study a wide range of courses, including creative media production, film studies, production crafts like set and prop design, as well as hair and makeup artistry. Students have had amazing opportunities working on major productions like The Crown, Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning and Paddington 2.

The University of Hertfordshire has a film and television programme which is in the top 20 for film production nationally, delivering industry ready graduates into the workplace. The university has close partnerships with leading industry figures. Former students have been winners of many prestigious television awards, with many going on to gain employment with leading companies and broadcasters such as BBC, Endemol, ITV and Sky.

With incredible education and employment opportunities on the doorstep and further investment planned over the coming years, the future looks bright for the county’s burgeoning creative industries.


Cllr Richard Roberts, Leader, Hertfordshire County Council, and Chair, Hertfordshire Growth Board said: “Hertfordshire has a rich heritage in filmmaking from Star Wars to Paddington, Saving Private Ryan to Band of Brothers. This is the golden age for Hertfordshire, spearheading skills development and driving job creation.

“It takes an army of different tradespeople and a diverse range of talent to produce a film. Thanks to our co-ordinated approach, working hand in hand with industry, we can ensure our residents and businesses are poised to benefit.”


New facilities that have been built in the past two decades include Sky Studios at Elstree, which sits on a 32-acre site, just off the Borehamwood exit of the A1, it has as many as 14 stages, covering 20,000sq ft, all using the latest in cutting edge technology. It is estimated that the studios could create over 2,000 new jobs.

Our county has a long history of film and TV excellence. Elstree Studios is world renowned and hugely successful and has been in existence for over 90 years. It has been the studio of choice for many legendary producers and directors with memorable films such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Elstree Studios has also produced TV shows including The Crown, Strictly Come Dancing and The Voice.

A new proposal to Hertfordshire is Sunset Studios, a US franchise that has produced movies such as La La land and the first X-Men franchise. Backed by a £700m investment, Sunset Studios has developed a 91-acre greenfield site in Broxbourne, it looks to create 4,500 new jobs and it is expected to become the largest film and TV studio campus in the UK. The studios will encompass 25 sound stages and is expected to contribute £300m a year to the local economy.

Last but very much, not least, is the Warner Brothers Studios, set in Leavesden, Hertfordshire, home to the Harry Potter films. Warner Bros has been making films in Hertfordshire for many years and invest heavily in the UK film industry.