Supporting the growth of the creative community in Bexhill-on-Sea has led to the investment of nearly £2m in new workspace on the site of the former Premier Foods factory.
The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) is to allocate £960,000 of Local Growth Fund investment, matched by £800,000 from Rother District Council, to the Bexhill Creative Workspace project. As well as creating new employment opportunities it will also help create low cost creative workspace and strengthen ties with the De La Warr Pavilion.
The site on Beeching Road industrial estate was used by Premier Foods for the production of its Sharwood’s range until 2004 when it closed with the loss of 250 local jobs.
The funding was allocated after Rother District Council put a compelling case to SELEP, which is responsible for supporting the economies of East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock, and promoting the 170,000 businesses across the area.
Christian Brodie, Chief Executive of SELEP, said: “This will create a focus for the town’s creative industries and also help to ensure Bexhill maintains its distinctiveness from neighbouring Hastings and Eastbourne.
“The De La Warr Pavilion is a beacon for the arts. This new workspace offers the great opportunity for the town to capitalise upon this to promote the town’s creative industries, and promote Bexhill as a place to work, play and visit.”
After purchasing the site from the Mars Pension Fund, Rother District Council plans to use the shell of the existing building and redevelop the interiors, roof and accesses. When completed, the project will create six light industrial units specifically for local creative firms or new arrivals to the town. When completed, the project will create new working spaces configured specifically for local creative firms or new arrivals to the town.
Cllr Christine Bayliss, Rother District Council cabinet member for regeneration and Bexhill affairs, said: "We're delighted to have been awarded funding from the Local Growth Fund for this exciting project.
“It gives us a fantastic opportunity to build and strengthen the links we have with Bexhill’s creative community and to create a hub where the town’s creative and cultural activity can grow and thrive.”
Huw Merriman, MP for Bexhill and Battle, said: "This is a really exciting project. I'm delighted to see that Rother District Council, with the help of SELEP, has seized this great opportunity to create a hub for the creative industries in Bexhill. I know, from my work for our local Jobs Fair, that there’s a huge amount of local creative talent in, and around, Bexhill. It’s essential that we create the right environment and work space to help this innovative industry to thrive and grow. This venture will do just that."
The aim is for the new workspace to be open for business by March 2020.