What is the Minster Exchange?
The Minster Exchange is a unique urban rejuvenation scheme that will enable a variety of activities and initiatives that will deliver positive economic, cultural, societal and environmental impacts for Cheltenham and its community. It is a pioneering joint venture between the public and private sector, with Cheltenham Borough Council partnering with Workshop Cheltenham (WSC), a group of local entrepreneurs, who presented the original idea for the Minster Exchange to the council.
The £5.86million project is partly funded from a jointly crafted government funding bid for an enhanced scheme resulted in a grant award of £3.5m from central Government’s ‘Getting Building Fund’ and the Growth Hub via GFirst LEP, Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership. This funding will enable delivery of an innovative modular construction building which will house state of the art workspace for the cyber tech, digital and creative sectors, a Growth Hub to support business development, an event space and café. In addition, and subject to planning approval, the grant will fund improvements to the neighbouring open space surrounding the Cheltenham Minster, the town’s oldest building, adjacent to the Wilson art gallery and museum. Plans will include new pathways, seating, public art, lighting, planting and signage.
The Minster Exchange will also provide a new home for Cheltenham Festivals to deliver a programme of events throughout the year and a platform to support its education and outreach initiatives. The flagship scheme will bring to life an under-utilised urban space in the heart of Cheltenham’s conservation area. The overall project will help to re-invigorate the local economy, establish key linkages to the High street, support economic growth and act as a beacon in the town for the forthcoming Golden Valley Cyber development.
It will bring together high growth companies in the cyber tech, digital and creative sectors on the one part and academia and the wider community on the other to create the ideal platform for organic growth, collaboration and serendipity to occur in one place.
The cyber sector and industries that are focused on the commercial use of digital technologies are increasingly important and make a valuable economic contribution to the UK’s international competitiveness, offering a platform from which to develop solutions to some of the most pressing challenges affecting the world today. Here in Gloucestershire, we have six times the level of cyber businesses than anywhere else in the UK, with Cheltenham at the heart of this network. Minster Exchange, as part of this vital cyber ecosystem, supports our commitment to build on existing strengths, to develop and grow this sector, putting Cheltenham firmly on the map as the cyber centre of the UK.
When does work start?
It is anticipated that work will begin on site at the Minster Exchange and Gardens this summer.