WORK is about to begin on a £2.5m expansion project at Barnsley’s record-breaking Business Village which will bring up to 25 extra office and workshop units for established and start-up businesses to the town. Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central and Mayor of Sheffield City Region, was among guests who attended the commencement ceremony on Friday as details of the exciting development were unveiled.
Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Northern Powerhouse, The Business Village has secured a grant of almost £1.5m and is adding a 13,000 sq ft building which is expected to be completed in November.
Record occupancy levels
The latest plans, first mooted in 2003, have twice been thwarted by funding challenges (but over the last two years, occupancy has still risen significantly). The Wilthorpe site enjoyed record occupancy in 2019, so the addition of 9,300 sq ft of lettable space couldn’t come at a better time with the company looking forward to breaking more records once the new building commences occupation in December 2020.
Formerly known as Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre, the 6.5-acre site was first developed in 1988 when 13,500 sq. ft of office space was created for potential high growth early stage technology businesses requiring significant levels of business support. Further phases followed in 1992 and 2001, alongside another development in 1994 at Cudworth.
“We have had to be patient in bringing this project to fruition,” said Business Village Chief Executive Adrian Waite. “The grant application process started in 2017, but initial plans for the building were created in 2013.
More flexible space
“The grant is awarded to provide more flexible space for growing SMEs in Barnsley and is a significant contribution towards the full build cost. We could not have afforded the investment without this grant support, and we are also indebted to Barnsley Council for their financial assistance with the project. The Council are very business focussed and have supported our efforts throughout the process.
“The Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership offered us one of the final European Grants awarded before the UK left the European Union so we are also very grateful for their support, and we also benefited from extended funding via the Northern Powerhouse.”
The Business Village provides a home for more than 100 businesses with over 600 staff between them, and the new building will provide space for up to 25 more businesses.
“If we were one business then we would be one of the largest employers in Barnsley, so our accommodation is a key part of the Barnsley economic strategy. Over the last 33 years, we have supported over 500 businesses, with some now having multi-million pound turnovers, so it was a wise move for Barnsley Council to secure our initial funding back in the 1980s,” added Mr Waite.
Support for start -up businesses
Mr Jarvis also praised the work of the site: “I think it brings good jobs in the first instance, and that’s really important, but I also think it gives us a credibility in emerging business areas and I think one of the things that we’ve got to continue to do is support start-up businesses.
“This provides an incubator, if you like, for the bright ideas that I know lots of people locally have got and this provides the forum where those bright ideas can be transformed into practical working businesses that will create jobs and growth, so I’m very supportive of this place, and I think it’s fantastic to see this new building which is going to be up, it will help create a significant number of jobs and that’s really exciting for the Barnsley economy.”
The new building will also place more focus on energy efficiency, as it will be equipped with solar panels, as well as cycle racks and showers to encourage people to cycle into work and car charging ports for those with electric cars.
The emphasis on energy efficiency is something that Mr Jarvis also applauded: “We are in the midst of a climate crisis, and we all have a responsibility to ensure that everything we do is as energy efficient as it possibly can be.
“These kinds of buildings, that are much more energy efficient are precisely the kind of buildings that we’re going to be constructing in the future. I think it’s absolutely right that they’re using innovative techniques and technologies and that they are seeking to make the building as energy efficient as they possibly can, because that will obviously reduce costs and it will reduce the impact on the environment, so I was really impressed to see that.”
Pontefract construction company harris cm has been appointed to undertake the work.
The project is receiving up to £1,468.000 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and is supported by Northern Powerhouse. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.