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Gloucestershire Business News

Cabinet gives green light to Cheltenham innovation hub

A proposed £5.2million innovation hub in the heart of Cheltenham has taken a step forward after it was unanimously agreed by Cheltenham Borough Council's cabinet.

And the cabinet also approved a joint venture with Cheltenham-based Workshop Group to develop the Minster Innovation Exchange.

The cabinet agreed to accept funding of £3.1million via local enterprise partnership GFirst LEP as part of the Government's Getting Building Fund designed for shovel-ready projects, as well as a £433,638 Tier 2 Growth Hub residual gran.

The 2,000sq ft innovation centre will be on the existing Chester Walk car park site alongside St Mary's Church, the oldest building in Cheltenham.

The joint venture with Workshop Cheltenham, who operate the cyber innovation space Hub8 in the town's Brewery Quarter, will see the incorporation of a limited liability partnership.

It will develop flexible workspaces, a 300-person capacity performance arena, cafe, community and education space as well as lighting, paving, seating and planting transforming the Minster.

Councillor Rowena Hay, cabinet member for finance, said: ''This is an exciting step forward as the funding will have a significant positive impact on the delivery of the project which we have been working very hard to deliver.

"A due diligence process has been undertaken by the LEP resulting in a green light to support the project.

''The exciting delivery of the Minster Innovation Exchange will see environment enhancements to the proposed building, supporting the council's carbon neutral ambitions."

She continued: "It will also deliver much-needed improvements to the area surrounding the Minster that 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.''

The cabinet recommendations will go forward to the full council meeting on November 16.

Workshop Group director Bruce Gregory said: "This funding will supercharge the scheme and enable us to establish Cheltenham and the wider region as a global centre for cyber-tech and digital innovation."

The centre was one of five projects in Gloucestershire which were awarded a share of £11.3million as part of the Government funding.

The others were the Gloucestershire Applied Digital Skills Centre at Cirencester College (£4.48million), Cyber Incubation Units at Gloucestershire College (£950,000), Digital Innovation Farm at Hartpury University (£1.25million) and Construction Education Centre in Cinderford with construction firm KW Bell Group (£1.96million), which received planning permission from Forest of Dean District Council last week.

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