An artist's impression of The Enterprise Arcade in Southport

Plans to spark a new Creative, Digital and Tech led district in Southport town centre are about to take a step closer. 

Sefton Council is due to approve £1.25million funding towards a brand new Enterprise Arcade, which will provide Southport’s first ever flexible office collaborative co-working space.

The funding is part of the Government’s £38.5milion Town Deal funding injection designed to support the regeneration of Southport. 

The new Enterprise Arcade, on Eastbank Street in Southport town centre, will act as an incubator and a flexible / co-working space for start-up businesses. It will be situated in the former council offices in Crown Buildings on the upper floors, plus three former cafe and retail units on the ground floor. 

The ambition is to diversify the local economy and encourage the arrival or the creation of more creative digital and technology led businesses. 

Just around the corner from the Enterprise Arcade, IT specialists Techedia are about to create 75 new jobs after investing £1million in a new HQ in the Cloisters building, adding to firms such as Fallen Planet Studios on Coronation Walk – which creates immersive games and experiences for Virtual Reality (VR) – and Immersive Interactive on Princes Street, which provides fully interactive immersive learning spaces. 

But Southport’s current creative, digital and tech sector currently has no identifiable geographic focus, which the new Enterprise Arcade – with a total project cost of £1.5million is looking to lead. 

The Arcade will offer a high tech, collaborative and affordable workspace for small businesses. 

The ambition is to diversify Southport’s economy, provide a greater number of skilled jobs, and create more opportunities to allow young people to stay in their home town.

In a report to Sefton Council, Executive Director of Corporate Resources and Customer Services Stephan Van Arendsen said: “Following the successful submission of Southport’s Town Investment Plan, under the government’s Town Deal funding programme, Southport has been allocated £37.5m for a range of projects. 

“All project funding allocations through the Town Deal have been developed with the agreement and support of the Town Deal Board and in line with the Town Deal Programme Heads of Terms. 

“One of the projects agreed and allocated £1.5m of funding is The Enterprise Arcade.

“The Town Investment Plan set this out as the regeneration and transformation of Crown Buildings into Southport’s first flexible office collaborative co-working space; designed to act as an incubator and flexible / co-working space for start-up businesses with the purpose of nurturing the growth of the creative digital and technology led business base which already exists in the town but currently has no identifiable geographic focus.

The site of the proposed Enterprise Arcade in Southport. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

The site of the proposed Enterprise Arcade in Southport. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

“Cabinet agreed the Business Case for this project in March and endorsed it to go forward as part of the Town Deal investment package.

“The preferred option for Enterprise Arcade is set out in the business case and in the Design Feasibility RIBA Stage 2 Report which will allow for the provision of 898 m2 of improved floor space comprising of Crown Building and three adjacent retail units on Eastbank Street, Southport. 

“The project is profiled to deliver the capital elements in 2022/23 financial year and within the capital programme £0.25m is already approved, a further £1.25m will be required to provide for project delivery.

“These costs will be fully recovered through the Town Deal Programme subject to DLUHC approval of the Business Case and meeting the requirement of the associated Grant Funding Agreement.” 

The project will utilise upper floors which were previously occupied by Sefton council, along with The Gallary cafe bar and grill and the former Friend Mobile shop on the ground floor. 

Key objectives of the project include:  

  • Support the diversification of the local economy  
  • Deliver refurbished floorspace to create a business incubator and meet the needs of new and growing businesses through flexible, experiential workspaces  
  • Increase the number of business in the target sector(s)  
  • Support new business starts and encourage entrepreneurship  
  • Support business and provide the right space for them to expand  
  • Support the creation of new jobs and training opportunities  
  • Act as a hub for businesses and innovation in Southport
  • Drive private sector investment and help to deliver a new Creative, Digital and Tech led district  
  • Help retain younger people in Southport  
  • Help ensure greater integration between education and business

Do you have a story for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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