Cheltenham tech hub build secured after land swap agreed

Shipping containers 'innovation hub' in Cheltenham Image copyright Developer WorkShop Group
Image caption The innovation hub will be built in a car park blighted by anti-social behaviour

A land swap has been agreed between two councils in Gloucestershire, enabling plans to build a hub for start-ups.

Planning consent was obtained in June but Cheltenham Borough Council had to then make a land swap with the owners, Gloucestershire County Council.

The borough council said the hub would help young entrepreneurs who were leaving the town, and also support the local, underperforming creative sector.

Developer, Workshop Group aims to build the hub by using shipping containers.

'Like-minded people'

Project sponsor at Cheltenham Borough Council, Mark Sheldon, added: "It's bringing together like-minded people who often leave Cheltenham and go to bigger places, or other places that are perceived to be perhaps more creative.

"This is hopefully going to reverse this historical trend."

The project has also received £500,000 Local Enterprise Partnership funding for a business growth support centre.

"Typically within this sector are young people who are starting up creative industries, historically they are often working from very small offices, or within bedrooms in homes.

"What this will do is bring them all together and provide a support network," he added.

Workshop Group hopes to open the hub at Chester Walk next autumn. It will also include a 300-seat arts venue, shops and an art gallery.

The rent it pays to the borough council will go up as profit and turnover increases.

Cabinet member for finance, Rowena Hay said: "We've done it over a five-year period with a land swap, with no money changing hands - an equivalent monetary value to the car park.

"It is an investment as well for the council so we will receive, as their success grows, an income from it."

The five-year plan for the hub is to help support 200 start-ups and create 300 full-time jobs.

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