The £5.2 million flagship scheme in the heart of Cheltenham town centre, known as the Minster Innovation Exchange, will move forward even quicker than planned and deliver an enhanced scheme thanks to funding of £3.114 million via GFirst LEP, from central Government’s £900 million nationwide ‘Getting Building Fund’.
The funding is in response to the impact of COVID-19 and will accelerate the delivery of the much-anticipated ‘shovel ready’ scheme, which will be located next to St. Mary’s Church which is Grade I Listed and the oldest building in Cheltenham. This further demonstrates the strength of Cheltenham as a place for major inward investment opportunities.
The hub is the brainchild of locally based Workshop Group who is also responsible for Hub8, the cyber innovation space located in Cheltenham’s Brewery Quarter. The scheme will repurpose an under-utilised town centre location through the delivery of 20,000 sq.ft of purpose-built commercial space including flexible workspaces, a 300-person capacity performance arena, cafe, community and education space.
The project has been a genuine partnership with local entrepreneurs at WorkShop Group, Gloucestershire County Council and the GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership.
The scheme will host and facilitate a variety of initiatives that will have a positive economic, educational, cultural, social and environmental impact on the town as well as making improvements to the area within the adjacent grounds and help to improve connectivity and increase footfall to The Wilson art gallery and museum, the Library and the Lower High StreetThe scheme will be delivered in a new partnership between the council and Workshop Group and will be a critical strand of Cheltenham’s and Gloucestershire’s economic recovery strategy; generating high value jobs and continuing the momentum created at Hub8 ahead of the opening of Cyber Central at Golden Valley in 2023, establishing Cheltenham as the UK’s foremost cyber tech cluster with a global reach.
Councillor Rowena Hay, cabinet member for finance said: ‘’This funding will have a significant positive impact on the delivery of the project which we have been working very hard to deliver. It will fund significant environment enhancements to the proposed building, supporting the council’s carbon neutral ambitions. It will also deliver much needed improvements to the area surrounding the Minster which will help create a new and vibrant creative quarter in the heart of the town centre. This scheme is a key project, forming another vital part of the council’s rapid Covid-19 recovery action plan and will provide a significance boost to the local economy.’’
David Owen, CEO from G-First LEP said: “In challenging times this is exciting news for both the Cyber and the Cheltenham community. This new build facility will be of low carbon modular construction, will deliver innovative co-working space right in the heart of Cheltenham and will act as a pilot for developments at the Cyber Central Campus.”
Bruce Gregory, director of Workshop Group said: “This is great news for Cheltenham and Gloucestershire. The funding will supercharge the scheme and enable us to establish the region as a global centre for cyber-tech and digital innovation.”
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