Peter Musgrove, director of offices at LSH in Bristol, said the £16 billion Hinkley Point nuclear plant project could act as a major catalyst for investment in the region if it goes ahead.
Along with other developments, such as Exeter Science Park, it could act as a magnet for major businesses to locate offices in the region, particularly along the M5, said Peter.
“The long-term prospects for Bristol and the South West are very promising. One of the biggest deals will be EDF taking space in the region. They could be tempted to move close to Hinkley Point in Somerset rather than Bristol. That could well improve the prospects for out-of-town offices.
“The great thing about a nuclear power plant is that it is a very long term project and a very large investment. As a result, there will be a lot of investment over a period of time coming down the M5 to areas like Clevedon and Taunton.
“Bristol has still got the best employment market, but the Government is pushing people down to Somerset. There will become, along the M5, a specialist nuclear hub. There will be offices for the major companies involved in the project, from construction firms to suppliers, and EDF will bring a large office hub too.”
He added: “There will be a major employment and investment boost along the M5 and it will be all at out-of-town sites because the occupiers will need access to the M5. I suspect it may all depend on what EDF does and the other companies involved in the project will follow its lead.
“This influx of investment and jobs should start in the next two years but many of the companies won’t move into the region until after the plant is built. Demands will change as the plant develops. It is a major catalyst for the region.”
Peter said that Exeter is one city to watch as it established itself as a science hub. “Exeter is having a bit of a renaissance. People are starting to realise that it is a really great place to live and to work and it also has a great university. Exeter Science Park is now really taking off.
“It is one of the best-placed science parks in Britain. Nearby there is an airport, the M5, open land, the Met Office and a university. I can see it really taking off over the next two to three years and it will be one of the biggest developments taking place in 2014.”