Plans have been tabled for a new Innovation Centre in Workington.
The Centre is part of the Workington Town Deal – £23.1 million of Government funding for ambitious projects ranging from a new sports village to improvements to Workington Port. If approved, the centre will be part of the Central Car Park in the town centre.
It will be aimed at digital technology and advanced manufacturing businesses. The vision is to establish Workington Innovation Centre as a distinctive focal point for the incubation and growth of entrepreneurial businesses, and will also address the lack of modern office accommodation in Workington.
Plans have revealed that the four-storey building will be clad in attractive metal panels with windows to provide plenty of natural light, but without losing energy efficiency through the use of too much glass. Solar panels on the roof will help meet the building’s electricity needs and air source heat pumps will also be installed.
The area around it will be landscaped to improve biodiversity, and tie the site to its surroundings. The inside space will be flexible and easily reconfigured to meet the changing needs of tenants, will include conference and meeting room space, and catering facilities for the facility’s users and special events, alongside informal meeting areas.
Tenants will be encouraged to use sustainable transport so the building will also have secure cycle storage and shower facilities. In addition, the Centre will provide tailored innovation and entrepreneurship support.
Oxford Innovation Space has been identified as the preferred operator of the new Workington centre. The organisation manages a number of similar facilities across the UK, working with local authorities, universities, science parks and investors.
Morgan Sindall Construction is the main contractor for the Innovation Centre. The NHS is also aiming to build a £15 million Community Diagnostic Centre on the same town centre Central site, offering MRI, CT and ultrasound scans.
This is subject to a separate planning application which has already been submitted to Cumberland Council for its consideration.
Leader of Cumberland Council, Cllr Mark Fryer, said: “This is a really positive scheme for West Cumbria’s business community. There is no supply of Grade A office space in Workington, which limits the town’s ability to attract and retain high quality firms, and there is a poor supply of small units for early stage companies or in-movers looking for amounts of modest space. There is also a limited supply of co-working space.
“The aim of this initiative is to resolve this, as well as re-energising Workington town centre by attracting increased footfall and expenditure. It is exciting to see these projects taking the next steps towards completion and I look forward to seeing the outcome of the planning applications.”
John Coughlan is the Chief Executive Officer of Workington-based TSP Engineering and Chairman of the Workington Town Deal Board. He added: “Anything that will deliver benefits to the business community in Cumbria is good news and I am very pleased to see the Innovation Centre scheme reach this planning milestone.
“I want to see more manufacturing opportunities, more creativity, more entrepreneurship and more business growth in this county, and beyond, and this initiative by Cumberland Council will deliver all of this and more.”