Investing in Saffron Walden
PUBLISHED: 13:00 18 March 2011 | UPDATED: 16:13 20 February 2013
An ancient charm is married with a modern approach to business in Saffron Walden. Elizabeth Ross explains why it is such an attraction...
Historic Saffron Walden is located in the district of Uttlesford. One of the most picturesque areas of Essex, residents here enjoy some of the highest standards in quality of life in England, according to many recent surveys. While the area around Saffron Walden has a distinctly rural and untouched feel, it has easy access to London via the M11 and nearby mainline rail links into Liverpool Street Station. Cambridge is 15 miles away and Stansted Airport is only 12 miles. Local science parks in Cambridge and Harlow draw many young professionals and families to the area and Saffron Walden is also popular with London commuters.
Open for business
Richard Swain, chairman of the Saffron Walden Business Forum, characterised the local business community as vibrant and proactive. 'There's a good, neighbourly attitude in the town,' he explains. 'We regularly help one another out.' Retail businesses are an important part of the town's local economy, which has remained buoyant despite the general downturn. Saffron Walden has a number of independent high-end, luxury stores which appeal to prosperous residents across a range of ages. Bigger national chains are also increasingly interested in opening branches in the town. Recent arrivals in the past 18 months include Starbucks, Monsoon, M&Co and Laura Ashley. Other small local businesses operate in the IT and advertising sector and the town is home to architects, accountants and graphic designers.
Support for investment
Saffron Walden town council and Uttlesford District Council are perceived as business friendly and collaborative. The town appears to have balanced local redevelopment needs for businesses with retaining the medieval character of the town exceptionally well. Shire Hill trading estate offers an attractive location for manufacturing businesses. According to the East of England development agency, the region is one of the fastest growing in Britain, with the local economy contributing more than 100 billion to the UK's gross value added figure.
Attraction of history
Local residents are rightfully proud of all that the town has to offer. Saffron Walden's roots stretch back to medieval times and the town centre retains much of the character of this period. The town is home to St Mary the Virgin, the largest parish church in Essex which dates to the 15th century, and the unusual turf maze, which is the largest in England and dates back to the 17th century. Other popular local tourist attractions are Audley End House and Gardens, the Miniature Railway, Hedingham Castle and the Duxford Imperial War Museum.