The major transformation of the only remaining part of the Daimler car factory in Coventry into a £2.4 million creative hub in time for UK City of Culture 2021 has been completed on time and on budget by Midlands property, development and construction company The Wigley Group.
The company, which has its headquarters in Stockton, Warwickshire, owns Sandy Lane Business Park where the building that will house the Daimler Powerhouse Creation Centre is located, and the improvement and refurbishment works have been carried out by its construction arm Wigley Building and Development.
The creative hub will be run by Imagineer Productions and will provide much-needed and dedicated fully accessible spaces for the production of outdoor and site-specific work, becoming part of a network of growing national and international creation centres.
The Daimler Powerhouse Creation Centre has been funded through £1.9 million from the Cultural Capital Investment Fund from Coventry City Council and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal.
The Wigley Group has contributed an additional £350,000 as well as agreeing a highly-discounted 20-year lease with Imagineer for the Daimler Powerhouse building, as well as a neighbouring building, as part of the redevelopment.
With building works complete, the interior of the creation centre will be completed over the coming months and £150,000 from Arts Council England will ensure state-of-the-art infrastructure is embedded within the building including a sound recording studio and edit suite, and a newly installed sprung dance floor and vertical dance wall.
The Powerhouse building is the only remaining part of the Lawson’s Daimler factory where the first Daimler car was built in 1897; the rest of the factory destroyed during Second World War bombing.
Its transformation is the first phase of the wider regeneration of the seven-acre site on Sandy Lane in north Coventry, with phase two being a new residential-led, mixed-use development, subject to planning permission.
James Davies, Managing Director of The Wigley Group, said: “Imagineer has been based at our Sandy Lane site for many years and we have been working with them on plans for a creative hub for a considerable amount of time, so it’s great to see it almost ready to open.
“It has been a joint project with a number of partners to create a cultural legacy on a site of great historical importance to the city and we look forward to seeing how it can develop the talents of existing and emerging artists and creatives well beyond this important year for Coventry as UK City of Culture.
“The Powerhouse is of course the first phase of the wider regeneration of the industrial estate and in the coming weeks we will be bringing forward detailed proposals for phase two of our plans to create a vibrant new neighbourhood for living and work, culture and leisure.”
Roger Medwell, Chair of the Board for Godiva Awakes Trust, said: “It really is testament to the dedication of our partners and funders that, even during these challenging times, building works are complete on time and on budget.
“The Wigley Group has done a fantastic job of preserving and maintaining the heritage of the building whilst also creating a modern and accessible space that will support not just Imagineer and the resident companies but the outdoor arts sector as a whole.
“Daimler Powerhouse will be a space for future generations of artists and creative engineers and it is wonderful to see the building coming to life again.”
Cllr David Welsh, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities at Coventry City Council, said: “The redevelopment of Daimler Powerhouse is a really important example of the city’s past and its future, and the investment the Council, and so many other partners, are putting into cultural venues in the city.
“It’s a building that has been a part of the city’s landscape for many years and it will be great to see artists using the Powerhouse to create, innovate and share their art with others.
“This is one of a number of important capital schemes that are either underway or near completion and it will be wonderful to see the venue close-up.”
Zamaurd Hussain, Board Director at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), said: “This creative hub fits in with the CWLEP’s Strategic Reset Framework to build on our area’s strengths to encourage enterprise and innovation and this certainly meets those objectives.
“It is wonderful that this is happening while Coventry is UK City of Culture and that we can enjoy its history as well as its future for many years to come.”
Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “This is a significant moment on the road to opening the Daimler Powerhouse. This new creation centre in the heart of the Coventry Canal’s creative corridor will be a laboratory for new artistic innovation. It will support the city’s growing arts economy in the city, creating a new destination that will not only bring audiences, but will attract a wide range of talent from across the UK and farther afield to come and create work in Coventry and collaborate with our amazing creatives.
“I can’t wait to see this new centre spring to life, and am excited to be working with all of the Powerhouse’s artistic residents to create new shows within our UK City of Culture year.”
As well as providing a home for Imagineer’s innovative education and training programmes aimed at young people and people with disabilities, the Daimler Powerhouse will also be home to five resident companies, Imagineer, Highly Sprung, Media Mania, Open Theatre and Talking Birds.
Daimler Powerhouse will open to the public in August 2021 as part of Coventry’s UK City of Culture Programme with a weekend of special events, performances and opportunities to visit the building.
James Davies, managing director of The Wigley Group (front left) with Mike Vining, planning consultant for The Wigley Group, Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of Coventry City of Culture Trust, Roger Medwell, Chair of the Board for Godiva Awakes Trust of which Imagineer Productions are part of, Zamaurd Hussain, Board Director at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and Robert Wigley, chairman of The Wigley Group, with aerialists Luka Owen and Daniel Connor.