Funding agreed to push forward with Cheltenham’s Minster Innovation Exchange

GFirst LEP ‘Minster Innovation Exchange’. CGI

A £5.2 million flagship scheme in the heart of Cheltenham town centre, to be known as the Minster Innovation Exchange, has been unanimously agreed by Cheltenham Borough Council.

Council members agreed to accept the funding of £3.114 million, via GFirst LEP, from central Government’s £900 million nationwide ‘Getting Building Fund’ and the award of the Tier 2 Growth Hub residual grant of £433,638.

The funding will accelerate the delivery of the much-anticipated ‘shovel ready’ scheme, which will be located next to St Mary’s Church in the town. St Mary’s is Grade I Listed and the oldest building in Cheltenham.

The cabinet also approved the council entering into a joint venture with locally based Workshop Group – Cheltenham, with the incorporation of the new limited liability partnership (LLP). The Workshop Group are also responsible for Hub8, the cyber innovation space located in Cheltenham’s Brewery Quarter. The joint venture partnership will repurpose an under-used town centre location through the delivery of 20,000 sq.ft of purpose-built commercial space including flexible workspaces, a 300-person capacity performance arena, cafe, community and education space. The grant will also fund public realm improvements within the grounds of the Minster including lighting, paving, seating and planting transforming it into a desirable place to spend time.

Councillor Rowena Hay, cabinet member for finance, said: ‘’This is an exciting step forward as the funding will have a significant positive impact on the delivery of the project which we have been working very hard to deliver. A due diligence process has been undertaken by the LEP resulting in a green light to support the project.

‘’The exciting delivery of the Minster Innovation Exchange will see environment enhancements to the proposed building, supporting the council’s carbon neutral ambitions. It will also deliver much needed improvements to the area surrounding the Minster that will help create a new and vibrant creative quarter in the heart of the town centre. This scheme is a key project, forming another vital part of the council’s rapid Covid-19 recovery action plan and will provide a significance boost to the local economy.’’

Bruce Gregory, director of Workshop Group said: “This funding will supercharge the scheme and enable us to establish Cheltenham and the wider region as a global centre for cyber-tech and digital innovation.”