Invest in South Lakeland, the inward investment and growth programme for the district, has revealed plans to transform a disused building in Kendal town centre into a new £500,000 enterprise centre for rural businesses, start-ups and SMEs.
Once completed, the scheme at 124 Highgate, which previously housed the Connexions training organisation, will feature 3,380 sq ft of new business accommodation and contemporary commercial facilities. This will include new offices, training facilities, meeting areas, break-out zones and multi-use, flexible rooms. There will also be an emphasis on collaborative working, shared spaces and places for informal networking.
As well as helping local firms access services, advice, training and high-quality business amenities to support their own commercial growth, the enterprise centre is also expected to support over 25 jobs directly. Refurbishment of the building, which formerly housed the Connexions careers service, is set to start in August and is due to be complete before the end of the year.
Invest in South Lakeland is already in talks with a number of possible tenants, as well as independent training organisations, local universities, business advisors and other partners who have expressed an interest in using the hub.
Joanne Golton, who leads the Invest in South Lakeland programme, said: “The Kendal Enterprise Centre project will bring back into use a prominent building on Kendal’s high street which has been vacant for many years and create a dynamic and contemporary business hub in the heart of the town centre.
“Our plans are a direct response to the increasing need for more high quality and flexible business accommodation within Kendal. Many micro-businesses and start-ups tell us they struggle to find appropriate office space in a central location, which is directly impacting on their potential for expansion.”
Cllr Jonathan Brook, innovation and improvement portfolio holder for South Lakeland Council, which funds Invest in South Lakeland, said: “There are currently a number of high quality and modern office spaces within Kendal town centre, such as Pixel Mill and Bridge Mills, together with The Factory, but these are all full. The popularity of these sites, together with our own research, clearly demonstrates the need to develop more flexible and collaborative workspaces across South Lakeland to ensure we attract and retain those dynamic and innovative businesses which could otherwise go elsewhere.”
A DEFRA grant for £105,000 has been awarded for this project.