+44 (0) 1354 622506 business@fenland.gov.uk

Invest in Fenland

About Fenland

Fenland covers around 200 square miles and boasts a truly unique history. Reclaimed from the sea through a pioneering drainage project in the 1600s, we have a famously flat landscape and the highest proportion of grade 1 agricultural land in the country.

During the 19th and 20th centuries the agricultural sector boomed and the legacy of this success can be seen in the rich heritage of our market towns - Whittlesey, Chatteris, March and Wisbech.

Aside from agriculture, Fenland is also renowned for its heritage, wildlife, big skies and extensive network of rivers that attract thousands of visitors all year round. The area also boasts Cambridgeshire's only commercial port to sea in Wisbech, making us an attractive destination for businesses as well as tourists who can enjoy a holiday on our many waterways.

Fenland's future is looking bright. Projects like Wisbech 2020 and the Garden Town development are set to improve transport infrastructure, prepare for population growth and boost prosperity, all while raising the profile of the town and wider Fenland area. A new £7 million engineering training facility at The College of West Anglia has recently been completed that will equip the current and future workforce with the skills they need to support our vibrant manufacturing industry.

In north Cambridgeshire, nestled between Lincolnshire and Norfolk, Fenland's location provides easy access to the urban centres of Peterborough, Norwich, King's Lynn and Cambridge, so people can enjoy the best of both worlds.

If you want to find out more about what makes Fenland a great place to do business, visit our 'economy in numbers' page or contact Fenland for Business:

Email: business@fenland.gov.uk
Call: +44 (0) 1354 622506

The Fenland Economy

Fenland is home to a population of 97,700 people, 61% of which are of working age. The economy of Fenland features a diverse mix of sectors and is made up of 3,340 businesses which combine to produce a GVA of around £1.6bn a year, operating at a productivity level of £34,300 per worker.

By employment, Fenland's largest private sector is Manufacturing, with Construction featuring as the largest sector based on the number of business units, closely followed by Agriculture.

With a much higher than average economic activity rate of 84.2%, a gross weekly pay of £384.40, a house price to earnings ratio of 5.37 and below average commercial property and land costs, Fenland is an affordable place to live and do business.

Fenland's economic growth has outstripped other regions of the UK for the last three years thanks to a thriving entrepreneurial spirit amongst our small but industrious population. Over 70% of businesses that were set up within the last 5 years in Fenland remain actively trading.

We have Cambridgeshire's only commercial port to sea in Wisbech and, with the A47 and A1101, enjoy good road links to Peterborough, Cambridge, Norwich and King's Lynn. Fenland offers an affordable base with easy access to urban centres and alternative trade routes.

Our businesses are committed to their workforce. Fenland employees receive the highest rate of on-the-job training compared to anywhere else in the UK. We have an amenable workforce that can be up-skilled in industry specific specialisms thanks to a new £7 million training centre at the College of West Anglia and have an apprenticeship up-take that mirrors regional and national trends. 

Our businesses

  • We have more than 3,000 businesses operating in Fenland, collectively generating over £2 billion of turnover.
  • Fenland has below average commercial property rates and land costs, as well as being an area of traditionally low wage costs.
  • We have confident businesses - in a survey conducted in April 2016, 50% of respondents indicated they had seen better business performance in the current year compared to last year, with 65% expecting an even better year during 2017.

By employment our top sectors are:

  • Public Admin, Education and Health 24%
  • Agriculture, Manufacturing 17.9%
  • Business Administration and Support Services 17.8%
  • Wholesale and retail, including motor trades 17.1%
  • Transport and Storage 5.6%

Primary services including agriculture, mining, energy and water account for 12.4% of businesses in Fenland.

Our people

  • Our working-age population has an above average economic activity level of 84.2%.
  • The total population of Fenland is under 100,000 and around 60% are of working age.
  • Fenland has a house price to earnings ratio of 5.37, making it an affordable place to live.

Our economic centres

  • The four market towns in Fenland - Chatteris, March, Whittlesey and Wisbech - are the primary economic centres of the area. Each enjoys its own unique character and industrial make-up.
  • Whilst enjoying the benefits of being a rural area, we also have easy access to the urban centres of Peterborough, Cambridge, King's Lynn and Norwich via the A141 and A47.
  • The future of Fenland is being strategically managed to enhance its growth with projects like Wisbech 2020 set to boost productivity. Plans are gaining national traction for a new railway line linking Cambridge, March and Wisbech and infrastructure improvements to the A47.

Our key sectors

  • Agri-Food - As a rural area it's no surprise that we're a hub for agriculture and food production, home to household brands like Alan Bartlett, Del Monte, McCains, Greenvale, Lamb Weston and Nestle Purina (links). Agri-Food accounts for a large proportion of businesses in Fenland and with some of the most fertile land in the country, it's no surprise that this is the most well established sector for our area.
  • Manufacturing The manufacturing sector is our biggest employer and we have a higher concentration of manufacturers than is found in the rest of the East of England or UK.  Many of our manufacturers are linked to the Agri-Food industry and we have particular strengths in metal fabrication and precision engineering. This expertise in turn provides the opportunity to diversify into new markets. Stainless Metalcraft (link), for example, are developing a reputation for excellence in the nuclear industry and are now making great headway in new markets such as China.
  • Financial and Business Services As we see more diversity in the industries growing here, they're supported by plenty of highly qualified accountants, solicitors and property and recruitment agencies who can provide advice and support for specific industries.

    With a higher proportion of companies in this sector than at national levels, our businesses are well served by specialist industry experts.
  • Wholesale & retail  With nearly 18% of Fenland's workforce employed in retail and wholesale, it's certainly a staple of our economy and testament to the entrepreneurial spirit in the area as we have proportionally more businesses in this sector than the average across the UK.

    This retail sector is set to strengthen as Fenland aims to capitalise on its tourism pull and improve its business offer. Regeneration projects like Wisbech 2020 and the Garden town initiative are already creating a buzz around Wisbech, Chatteris, March and Whittlesey, improving infrastructure to give tourists and businesses better access and putting stock into these historic market towns to provide a renewed attraction for visitors. 

For more information about our local economy, talk to Fenland for Business.

Email: business@fenland.gov.uk
Call: +44 (0) 1354 622506

Fenland For Business free networking event - September 29 2017

Friday 29 September 2017, 10:00
The Boathouse, 1 Harbour Square, Wisbech, PE13 3BH

A free of charge, informal and relaxed drop-in session organised by Link4Coffee in partnership with Fenland District Council. These events run every 4 weeks to give local organisations a chance to connect with each other and the local commu...

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Growing Your Business in Fenland - free networking event in Chatteris

Tuesday 05 September 2017, 10:30
South Fens Business Centre, Fenton Way, Chatteris, PE16 6TT

This is a free, informative networking event for Fenland businesses and the third event in a new series taking place in Chatteris organised by Fenland for Business and Fenland District Council. The focus for this session will be growing you...

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Fenland For Business free networking event - September 2017

Friday 01 September 2017, 10:00
The Boathouse, 1 Harbour Square, Wisbech, PE13 3BH

A free of charge, informal and relaxed drop-in session organised by Link4Coffee in partnership with Fenland District Council. Run every 4 weeks, these events provide a regular opportunity to connect with your local community and the diverse...

Find out more