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People talking in a building under construction
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Northampton Waterside Campus
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A Starship Robot driving down a street
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Northampton College Advanced Engineering CentreNorthampton College Advanced Engineering Centre
Northampton College Advanced Engineering Centre
East Northamptonshire Enterprise CentreEast Northamptonshire Enterprise Centre
East Northamptonshire Enterprise Centre

Enterprise Centre: East Northants (ECEN)

21 December 2021

LGF awarded: £1.695m
Total project cost: £7.6m
Delivery Partner: East Northamptonshire Council
Project Status: Completed June 2020
Projected Outputs: 2,510 sqm office space, 173 new jobs, 50 new start-up businesses

Summary

This new enterprise centre at Warth Business Park in Raunds, Northants, provides 3,430 sqm gross of new, high quality, business floorspace, incorporating 2,510 sqm office/studio managed workspace in a range of units, from 1-person (10 sqm) to 10+-people (100 sqm). The units are modern, flexible and run on an ‘easy in, easy out’ basis, which will be critical for nurturing start-ups and business growth.

The centre provides management, reception, meeting and networking spaces, and other facilities including superfast broadband. In addition to providing a base for high-value start-up and growth of businesses, ECEN provides a platform for all local businesses to increase productivity through support and networking opportunities.

ENS worked with Total Project Integration (TPI) and R H Partnership Architects to deliver the £8 million project. East Northamptonshire Council received £1.695 million support from SEMLEP Local Growth Fund in order to deliver the centre as part of Enterprising East Northants, the Council’s economic plan for sustainable job creation and business growth.

The day-to-day operation of the site is managed by BizSpace, a leading provider of regional flexible workspace, who will work with Enterprising East Northants, the Council’s economic arm, to provide small and medium enterprises with business support and advice. BizSpace will also help to facilitate local networking by hosting monthly events.

Background and Rationale 

The project aims to drive enterprise and entrepreneurship in the area, in response to a frustration with a high rate of out-commuting to Cambridge, London, Northampton and Milton Keynes.

The focus of the local economy has been on distribution and logistics too, which can be seen as generally lower skilled. The project aims to rebalance the economy by encouraging enterprise and the growth of jobs in the area. The project specifically aims to support new and growing enterprises with the accommodation and business support they needed through ‘easy in, easy out’ accommodation in a range of sizes. The project also provides bespoke business support on site, and the site is aiming to become a centre for all business networks and training in the area. The project also aims to develop a community of interest on site, stimulating and incubating businesses.

Impact

The enterprise centre aims to be attractive to both new businesses who might see it as a first step into an office/workshop environment, and to more established businesses that may see the premises as an opportunity to maximise new ways of flexible working between employees homes and an established office set up.

To date, the project is exceeding its target occupation (41% instead of 35%). This has been supplemented by a number of public sector teams who are vacating County Hall in Northampton, who have required accommodation.

In terms of local impact, the project represents investment in the area, and also reflects confidence and intention to build enterprise and businesses in the area. There is a real sense that the building represents the local area’s ambition to be entrepreneurial and to adapt to the new world.

Overall, the project expects to achieve the following key outputs:

  • 63 businesses supported a year
  • 10 businesses starts a year
  • 2,510 net additional office floorspace
  • 173 jobs created (to 2025)
  • 59 indirect jobs (to 2025, excluding construction)
  • £32.1m economic contribution (to 2025).

The project intends to have a wider impact on attracting inward investment and boosting productivity amongst SMEs, whilst also reducing unemployment and out-commuting in the area. The Centre already plays host to a range of businesses, including marketing, digital, commercial agents, app developers, and the Council’s Recovery Hub.

Since opening, the project has seen increased demand for training; the project has submitted a change of use application to allow for 25% of the building to be used for training, to support businesses who are looking to move into new markets and to develop new skills.

It is considered by the project lead that the Enterprise Centre model is one that should be implemented across the region – be it sector specific or general. The area would also benefit from acceleration space.

Environmental and Social Impact

The project’s focus on alleviating the need for out-commuting will have positive knock-on effects on the environment by encouraging workers to remain local, without having to commute as far for work. Moreover, the site provides bike racks to encourage cycling, and is tied into local Greenway cycling initiative too. The centre is home to two electric car charging points, and they have the capacity to increase this.

Socially, the centre acts as a meeting point, and aims to support a move towards more flexible, hybrid mode of working.

Impact of Covid-19

Uncertainties provoked by the Covid-19 pandemic and inevitable changes to work practices and behaviours emphasise the need for flexible workspace, and the centre is ideally positioned to support SMEs and entrepreneurs as they adapt to a new working culture, in a safe and secure space. The project is therefore well positioned to businesses who need to adapt and pivot their operations; larger businesses are rethinking their operations, whilst individuals might have saved enough to start their own business in the wake of the pandemic.

The pandemic also only pushed the opening back 6 weeks.

Enterprise Centre East Northamptonshire

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