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Business, Tourism and High Streets Portfolio

'Helping local businesses to grow and prosper' 

Portfolio holder, Councillor Michael Harris

On this page:

Portfolio holder introduction

Economic wellbeing is central to a thriving community and there is a continued focus on helping local businesses to grow and prosper.

Increased broadband and mobile connectivity remain a key objective to achieving this.

We will engage with the wider business community and promote skills development through the increased take up of apprenticeships and upskilling of the economically active population of the New Forest.

We recognise that high streets are changing, and we will support these businesses in new and different ways.

There is an increasing need to respond to the social, environmental and technological challenges to businesses.

We will support our high streets to thrive and diversify and provide support for specific industries including forestry, agriculture and maritime.

We will support the visitor economy across the entirety of the New Forest district, including the national park.

We acknowledge that there will be challenges ahead for the hospitality industry due to the current issues with labour supply, and we will work with Go New Forest and other partners to address this.

Building on the success of Film New Forest in supporting the local economy, there is an opportunity to extend the promotion of the New Forest as a destination for the wider digital creative industries.


Our priorities are:

  • continuing to work with partners and businesses to grow the New Forest economy
  • lobbying for essential improvements in broadband and mobile connectivity
  • helping businesses, industries and High Streets respond to social, environmental and technological changes and innovation
  • supporting the visitor economy across the New Forest district
  • continuing to promote the New Forest as a filming destination

Key activities

Our key activities are:

  • identify all businesses within the district and target engagement
  • lobby and work with partners to improve broadband and mobile connectivity
  • work in partnership to increase the uptake of apprenticeships and upskilling opportunities
  • encourage inward investment for the New Forest
  • support networking for changing high streets
  • encourage direct communication with landlords to consider new and vibrant uses for vacant premises for community or economic use
  • encourage communities to maintain behavioural changes developed during the pandemic around shopping locally to support the green economy
  • work with Go New Forest to promote tourism within the New Forest
  • establish a single point of entry to the council for businesses

Action plan and achievement measures

This plan of specific actions that will directly contribute towards the delivery of the priorities within each portfolio.

These actions will be refreshed annually to keep them up to date.

Achievement indicators for each portfolio have been identified to help monitor progress against the delivery of the priorities and provide tangible measures of success.

Progress updates on specific actions and achievement indicators will be reported to the relevant overview and scrutiny panel during the year.

Specific actions 

Specific actions are:

  • identify all businesses within the district using a range of sources and continue to engage with businesses on a regular basis using business e-news email contact
  • establish a single point of entry to the council for businesses by 2022
  • identify options for improved connectivity in the district and develop an action plan
  • establish a programme of activities across the year to support an increase in footfall in our high streets, commencing with an online conference for local high street businesses and stakeholders
  • work in partnership to increase the uptake of apprenticeships and upskilling opportunities, including through Solent Apprenticeship Hub
  • forge connections with location finders within the filming industry to promote the New Forest as a filming location
  • launch new programmes and networks with partners to enhance support for businesses in the district
  • work with partners to set up the youth employment hub and collaborate on New Forest Young Entrepreneurs
  • work in partnership with Go New Forest to share key messages
  • promote wider use of the of the district in order to manage capacity and improve visitor experience

Achievement indicators

Achievement indicators are:

  • increase in apprenticeships within the district (Number)
  • increase in businesses engaged in the economic development programme (Number)
  • increase in subscribers to 'Helping local businesses grow' e-news (Number)
  • participants in initial High Streets online conference (Number)
  • participants in European Regional Development Fund business network (Number)
  • participants in Youth Employment Hub (Number)
  • participants in New Forest Young Entrepreneurs (Number)
  • value of grants distributed by March 2022 (£)
  • Film New Forest, value of filming in the district (£)
  • location finding contacts within the filming industry (Number)

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