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The New Forest District is well known as an area of outstanding ecological interest and also as a popular visitor destination. Its merits as a business location are less well known. It enjoys the degree of accessibility which one would expect from a location in central southern England:
- Bournemouth and Southampton International Airports are a short drive from District
- Heathrow and Gatwick are one hour away by the M27 and M3 motorways
- Journeys by rail to Waterloo take less than 90 minutes
- The port of Southampton lies adjacent to the District boundary
The District is situated in south west Hampshire between Southampton City to the east and the Bournemouth/Poole conurbation to the west. It covers 290 square miles, and some two thirds of this comprises the world famous New Forest, an area of ancient woodland, heaths and lawns. There are also two other Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the District.
But there is more to the District than its outstanding environment. The population has increased rapidly to some 173,000 (HCC Small Area Population Forecast 2009), most of whom live in the six towns around the edge of the District. The highly skilled workforce of around 77,000 is expected to increase further during the next 5 years. There are almost 8,000 registered businesses providing employment for over 64,000 people in the District, ranging in size from the major petro-chemical complex at Fawley to small businesses in converted farm buildings. Unemployment is consistently below that of both Hampshire and Great Britain.
In short, it is a prosperous area with a varied economic base, a skilled and flexible workforce, and scope for businesses to expand and develop.