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Gloucestershire Business News

£6.8 million Minster Exchange transformation gets underway

A vision to transform the space around Cheltenham Minster has become reality, with the arrival of 46 bespoke modular units on site.

The Minster Exchange (MX) project will house 20,000 square feet of state-of-the-art workspace, a home for The Growth Hub to support business development, a purpose-built events space, café, community and education space.

The scheme is the centrepiece of Cheltenham Borough Council's post-Covid recovery strategy.

The arrival of the bespoke modular units is the first step in the creation of the brand new town centre cultural hub. The units are currently just a shell and will be clad and finished to enhance the surrounding environment. Timber for construction of the event space will also be arriving soon.

Councillor Rowena Hay, leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, said: "The significance of the MX scheme is such that it will bring together the library, the Wilson Art Gallery & Museum, a large performance space and a café culture.

"It will establish the area as the heart of the town once again. Improved lighting and footpaths will encourage better connectivity between the High Street and Promenade, reinventing and breathing life into a space that should be well used and enjoyed by residents, communities and businesses.

"It's incredibly exciting to see the long-awaited arrival of the modular units, as it's the first time we have really been able to see the plans turn into reality. As we work hard, together with our partners, to recover as a town from the pandemic, the delivery of the MX project is crucial, now and for future generations.''

Bruce Gregory, director at WorkShop Cheltenham, the council's development partner, said: "The MX will be transformational for the town, helping to reinstate the Minster Gardens and the surrounding area as a vibrant location for the community to visit and enjoy.

"It will be a platform for high growth companies in the cyber tech, digital and creative sectors and link with Hub8's two other sites, located in The Brewery Quarter and Gloucestershire College's Cheltenham campus.

"It will be a shop window for the future vision of the town, as we build momentum towards the launch of the Cyber Innovation Campus as part of the Golden Valley Development. The MX will also be the new home for Cheltenham Festivals and provide a year-round calendar of events to underpin the town's thriving festival scene."

The scheme has been designed with the environment in mind. The bespoke modular construction of the units has several sustainability benefits, including efficient production, reduced waste and effective energy control, as they were manufactured in a factory, rather than on a construction site.

As part of the wider MX initiative, it is proposed that the closed churchyard of Cheltenham Minster - the town's oldest building - will benefit from renovation and restoration works.

Known as Minster Gardens, plans for the space include new pathways, seating, lighting, planting and signage. The scheme, unanimously approved by the local planning authority in December, is currently with the diocese for consideration. The project team aims for designs to go on display for the public to see very soon.

It is hoped that the MX scheme will be completed this summer, with similar timescales for the gardens, subject to approval.

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