THE need for more office and industrial space for growing local businesses, and for those considering relocating to the area, was the subject of the latest South Wiltshire Economic Partnership forum.

The forum, held earlier this month at the Guildhall in Salisbury, welcomed representatives of commercial property consultants Vail Williams and chartered surveyors Myddelton & Major.

Vail Williams have undertaken a commercial property market analysis on behalf of SWEP, looking at a number of factors including the supply and demand of industrial and office space in Salisbury, Amesbury, Wilton, Tisbury, Mere and Downton.

Myddelton & Major have teamed up with SWEP to provide a commercial property website

Alan Taylor, chairman of 642-member SWEP, said one of the issues that came up time and time again was property and planning.

"It's the bane of our lives," he said.

"People say there's not enough property and too much planning. "We are trying to identify what property we have got, how much we need and how we can get from one to the other."

He said the website would show people what commercial property was available at any one time and the property market analysis would enable SWEP to "use it with authority to influence land use and planning decisions".

Surveyor Dean Speer of Myddelton & Major said the website was a single point of reference for people seeking business space.

"It is encouraging economic development by helping businesses find the space they need," he said.

"Within a couple of days of something being on the market, it's on the site.

"It has 500 visits a month and it's growing."

Simon Ward, of Vail Williams, outlined the results of the commercial property market analysis.

It revealed that premises in Salisbury district were smaller, on average, than those in surrounding local authority areas and the choice was more limited, especially for businesses planning to grow.

Nearly 120 respondents said they were dissatisfied with their location and 130 felt their location would not meet their needs in the next five years. "This means 130 are likely movers," said Mr Ward.

But, he said, there was a lack of sizeable accommodation.

"There is no capacity to cater for a large scale office requirement," he said.

In terms of industrial space, while Salisbury, Tisbury, Mere and Downton had a supply of industrial land balancing or nearly balancing demand, and Amesbury's supply well exceeded demand, Wilton's supply fell far short of demand.

Mr Taylor said SWEP would continue to monitor business needs and act as an ambassador for the business community.