New innovation hub for Cheltenham town centre

Published on 10th October 2019

artists impression of proposed innovation hub

A number of high quality affordable spaces for creatives could soon be available in the heart of Cheltenham.

A new innovation hub is one step closer to being delivered by local developer Workshop Group, and supported by Cheltenham Borough Council, Gloucestershire County Council, GFirst LEP, Creative England and Cheltenham Festivals.

The hub will be set in the historical and cultural quarter of the town centre adjacent to the Cheltenham Minster, Cheltenham Library and the Wilson on land currently used as Chester Walk car park. The innovative modular construction, including shipping containers, will incorporate next generation technology, flexible and affordable co-working spaces over two floors, a Growth Hub business support centre, state-of-the-art 300-person capacity performance area and education space.

The borough council’s proposed land swap of Chester Walk car park and part of St George’s Road car park has now been agreed by Gloucestershire County Council. The 20,000sq ft urban regeneration scheme is supported by a number of stakeholders including the University of Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire College and Cheltenham Trust.

Cllr Rowena Hay, member for finance at Cheltenham Borough Council, said: “I’ll be delighted to see this innovative project come to fruition, creating a cultural hub in the heart of the town centre.  It will greatly enhance the local area and provide much needed opportunities for local start-ups and young creatives to spring-board their entrepreneurship all of which supports the council’s place strategy where culture, creativity and businesses thrive.

‘’Additionally we’ll see St George’s car park benefitting from improvements including remodelling and resurfacing as well as better disabled parking provision.”

Bruce Gregory of Workshop Group commented: “Workshop will deliver a unique innovation space for our current and next generation of start-ups and SMEs in the creative, digital and cyber tech sectors. The purpose built event space at the heart of the project will be run in collaboration with Cheltenham Festivals and provide a year-round programme of events, building upon the town’s vibrant cultural offering.”   

Cllr Lynden Stowe, cabinet member for finance and change at Gloucestershire County Council said: “Workshop Cheltenham will significantly benefit Cheltenham’s economy, bringing investment and job opportunities into the town for its growing population.

“I am pleased we can support the borough council with this exciting project and by relocating our frontline staff to St George’s car park, which is next door to our offices, we will be able to improve our response time when vulnerable people are in need.”

The project will be funded from a range of sources including Creative England, the LEP and private financing.


For media enquiries contact: communications, email communications@cheltenham.gov.uk or telephone 01242 264332.

Artist impressions available on request: please contact communications as above.

Visit our You Tube channel to see Cllr Rowena Hay, Bruce Gregory, and Mark Sheldon, director of corporate projects at Cheltenham Borough Council, talk about the proposals. https://www.youtube.com/user/cheltenhamborough/videos.
Please see the direct video links here https://youtu.be/acP_-tcPZYM, https://youtu.be/05HWPIRECdY and https://youtu.be/9kvkT6PoDos

Notes:

The report was considered by Cheltenham Borough Council’s cabinet on 8 October and Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet on the 9 October 2019.

About Workshop Cheltenham

A collaboration of creative entrepreneurs, working with Creative England and the GFirst LEP (the Local Enterprise Partnership for Gloucestershire), approached the council to facilitate the creation of ‘Workshop Cheltenham’, an innovative concept offering low cost start-up space for the creative industries and an economic growth hub, using modular construction.

Next generation technology includes digital, solar and battery power.

About the land swap

The site identified for Workshop Group Cheltenham is Chester Walk car park owned by Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) and currently used for parking by key social services staff working from GCC’s St George’s Road offices in Cheltenham.

Cheltenham Borough Council (CBC) proposed an ‘equivalent value’ land swap between Chester Walk car park and part of St George’s road car park.

CBC will enter into a lease with Workshop Cheltenham in order to allow them access to Chester Walk to construct the Workshop facility. The lease would include a provision securing an annual rent to the council, linked to the turnover achieved at the site, plus the potential for additional rent linked to the profits of Workshop Cheltenham and the site.

Plans for St Georges Road car park

CBC and GCC propose to segregate St George’s Road car park, including boundary treatments, resurfacing, relining and new signage. The layout of the residual car park will result in improvements to the parking provision, including improved mobility space provision and resurfacing.

For further information about Workshop Cheltenham read the cabinet report