Friday, 21 May 2010

Creative Industries Hub boost for Redcar

The transformation of Redcar seafront moved a step closer today as ambitious plans were unveiled for a landmark focal point for creative and digital industries in the area.

The Hub, an innovative business centre, will provide an exciting new base for up-and-coming firms to flourish on the site of the former Palace Theatre.

The new facilities will be closely linked to a unique 80ft viewing tower which was announced last year, to include 3,000 sq ft of business space, a digital café, and gallery space for digital and commercial arts.

The Hub will provide 35,712 sq ft of business space, including 32 managed offices, along with workshops, studios and communal spaces.

Both buildings are being funded by £2,823,000 from Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, £2,534,000 from Regional Development Agency One North East, £4,655,110 through the European Regional Development Fund and £940,000 from the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative. This funding will also cover initial revenue costs at both new buildings.

As well as prime office space, The Hub will provide businesses with an array of support and opportunities to thrive in the 21st century. Planned measures include mentoring services through Teesside’s pioneering Digital City Business; fellowships with the Institute of Digital Innovation and events and festivals highlighting the burgeoning industry.

The project was developed in the wake of extensive consultation with both the business community and Redcar residents. The area’s existing creative industries sector presently boasts about 300 companies, generating a combined turnover of some £31m – figures that partners believe could be significantly boosted by having a flagship focal point.

Council officials spoke to hundreds of firms during the project’s planning stages and already have 41 expressions of interest in taking up work space in The Hub. The scheme would also address residents’ calls during the Council’s “Love It, Hate It” consultation exercise to bring the Palace Theatre site back into use to benefit the community.

The current building has been vacant and semi-derelict for more the past few years, with only its shell now remaining and structural surveys showing that it could not have been retained.

The proposals will go out to public consultation, starting on Saturday, May 22, with planning permission then to be sought and, if approval is granted, a year-long construction programme would start this November. A website charting progress is also being planned.

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