Work is to begin on a £7.3m redevelopment of Hereford’s Shell Store in January, transforming the historic building into a flagship business incubation and innovation centre.
The redevelopment of the derelict building on Skylon Park, at Rotherwas, will create more than 2,000 sq metres of employment space, with room for new and growing businesses to set up and expand alongside facilities for development and innovation, presently earmarked for the new NMiTE University.
This week saw the final funding agreements put into place to support the project at the former munitions site on the Hereford Enterprise Zone. The project is being funded via the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Herefordshire Council and a loan from the Marches LEP’s Marches Investment Fund.
The Shell Store, which is not a listed building, was built in the First World War and used again as an ordnance site during the Second World War. The project will see commercial space created within the existing building footprint, retaining much of the original factory including its steel roof structure.
The incubation centre will provide high quality accommodation and support services to new or young enterprises as well as an application and development centre for the new Herefordshires university, NMiTE. This will create an interface between the new university and businesses as well as providing space for students to develop their practical projects.
Chairman of the Hereford Enterprise Zone, Andrew Manning Cox, said the redevelopment is a major milestone for Skylon Park.
“The project will provide employment space for approximately 25 businesses when the centre is fully occupied. The intention is that as businesses in the centre grow, they will take larger units as their needs for space and employment requirements increase. Eventually businesses will be of a size where they need to move out of the centre, releasing space for the next generation of businesses and creating a ready source of demand for employment units within the Zone.
“That figure is expected to rise to approximately 466 by 2031.There is a proven demand for high quality start up or grow on business space to rent in the area and Skylon Park is the perfect place for it.”
The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership is providing a £2.498m interest free loan for the work with £2m being contributed by the ERDF and Herefordshire Council is investing the balance.
Graham Wynn, chairman of the Marches LEP, said the project demonstrated the LEP’s commitment to delivering modern, sustainable jobs to the region and helping build a thriving economy.
“The Marches Investment Fund is specifically designed to inject funding into schemes which can help bring economic growth and prosperity to the region, and the Shell Store project will do just that. If we are to maintain our proven track record of growth it is vital we encourage and nurture enterprising young businesses.”
Councillor Harry Bramer, Herefordshire Council Cabinet Member for Contracts and Assets, said: “This is a tremendously exciting and important scheme to breathe new life back into the Shell Store, which has played such a significant role in the history of Hereford.
The centre is due to be completed in early 2020 and initial preparatory work has already begun and will continue over the coming weeks.