Southport has real potential to “offer opportunities to attract mobile businesses from the creative, digital, and professional services sectors” when the new Southport Enterprise Arcade opens.
A full planning application has this week been submitted for the exciting new £1.5 million facility, one of the major schemes in the Southport Town regeneration initiative.
The transformation of the 15,000sq ft Crown Buildings at 9-11 Eastbank Street in Southport town centre will create a vibrant CreaTech sector in the seaside town, offering flexible and adaptable workspaces in a bright attractive environment for both new and established digital, creative and tech business people to work together.
Just around the corner, on Corporation Street, IT solutions firm Techedia is about to open its £1 million new HQ, creating 75 new tech jobs.
The hope is that the new Southport Enterprise Arcade and Techedia will encourage others to follow, helping to diversify Southport’s economy from being tourism led with mainly semi-skilled and seasonal employment opportunities to one that is attractive to talented, highly-skilled workers.
The Arcade will boast “a lively open-plan café space” on the ground floor.The first floor will host a single anchor office unit.
The second floor will contain growing spaces designed to accommodate businesses with 4-12 employees while the third floor will be home to individual co-working spaces and start-up workspace for businesses with 1-2 employees.
The redevelopment is being led by Sefton Council with the design work being done by K2 Architects.
In their submission, they said: “Southport is a resort town with a traditional focus on health and wellbeing. At the core of this strategy lies the business of retail, leisure and entertainment supported by a service sector reliant on semi-skilled workers.
“Despite almost 200 years of prosperous activity in this field, the town has struggled to adapt to the shifting culture of social and economic attitudes of the late 20th Century. Consequently, it has experienced a gradual economic downturn, the long-term impact of which has been significant.
“Its population is becoming increasingly concentrated at the older end of the social order, while the younger, economically active population are migrating to the cities for a better quality of life.
“Southport’s natural environment and built heritage offers enormous potential in addressing the debate on what a lifestyle focused on health and wellbeing should look like in the 21st Century.
“However, it currently lacks the basic workspace infrastructure to successfully deliver on the live, work and play narrative that drives modern towns and cities.
“Furthermore, coupled with its relative connectivity to the Northern Powerhouse, Southport has the potential to offer opportunities to attract more mobile businesses from sectors other than tourism, such as the creative, digital, and professional services sectors. Understanding what attracts these firms and the wider link between amenity value and economic development will be critical to ensuring successful outcomes for the Town Deal.”
Earlier this year Southport secured £38.5million from the Government through the Southport Town Deal.
Southport Enterprise Arcade is one of those schemes, while £33.3 million has gone towards creating the new Marine Lake Events Centre and the light show in Marine Lake.
More funding has supported the conversion of Southport Market into a new food, drink and events space and the provision of a ‘boulevard of light’ along Lord Street in an initiative led by Southport BID.
Funding is also supporting ‘Les Transformations de Southport’ which will create better connectivity and a more attractive environment in the town centre.
K2 Architects said: “The Town Deal represents an opportunity to attract new skills and jobs into the area.
“It offers a vehicle for investment in the town centre’s social infrastructure, creating spaces for local entrepreneurs and professionals to meet and deliver projects bound together by the spirit of local pride.
“Providing such spaces offers a strong foundation for developing a local skills base and improving the community’s social health and wellbeing in keeping with an attractive, modern, and progressive town.”
Sefton Council appointed K2 Architects in late 2020 to prepare a RIBA Stage 1 Initial Project Brief, exploring a range of workspace options for Crown Buildings, an attractive 1920s, four-storey municipal office block at the junction of Eastbank Street and King Street, to be known as The Enterprise Arcade, aimed at creatively inspiring a change in the town centre’s entrepreneurial landscape and support their emerging business case.
This study formed part of Southport’s successful Town Deal application.