Mark Crabtree, the man behind local music technology manufacturer AMS Neve, is to fund the redevelopment of Burnley Grammar School into a collaborative workspace for digital start-ups, with an opening date of September inked in.
Ivy House Developments is working on the project, which has been designed by Clitheroe architect Ivan Wilson following work by heritage architect David Morris of Growth Lancashire.
Crabtree, who chairs the Burnley Bondholders business organisation, is himself a former pupil of the school, and has recently acquired the site. AMS Neve provides music technology for Oscar and Emmy-winning studios.
The Landmark Burnley is to be a showpiece for the Digital Lancashire initiative, to improve the performance of and opportunities for digital businesses in the county.
In a similar vein to venues such as Manchester’s Sharp Project, there will be some space for co-locating professional services firms at the development, which is to be called Landmark Burnley. Work is to start on site next week.
Crabtree said: “The Landmark project is a way to help Burnley grow its digital skills base, and for that not to leak out to say Manchester but keep the talent and skill in Burnley.
“The Landmark will also have allied businesses in situ, a small presence of lawyers and accountants in a move that means those professions will be on hand to assist the young companies grow and flourish. The building is absolutely amazing, very atmospheric and lends itself to being a great place to work.
“I could see there were many digital businesses ‘under the radar’ in the borough and together with the Council regeneration team we got together 20 of the 60 businesses we identified and asked what they needed in order to grow and stay in the town.
“Top of the list was their desire to work next to each other and share knowledge, making connections. We looked at constructing a new building, but knew that would have taken years.”
The venture plans to link up with Rob Binns’ Cotton Court collaborative space in Preston and the Landing at Media CityUK in twinning arrangements, where customers of each can use the other spaces when in the area.
The development project will include different styles of space, including oak-panelled office space to more modern, hi tech, areas with features including a glass atrium linking the old part of the building to newer areas. The main hall will become an events space. The Landmark is expected to house up to 60 businesses.