An enterprise hub providing workspace for over 20 small businesses will be created in vacant space in Stafford’s Shire Hall and help to support the town centre economy.
The £2million project will see the area of the building which formerly housed the town’s library transformed into the fully service hub. Like the county council’s other enterprise centres, it will offer office space, reception facilities, meeting areas, networking opportunities and business advice and support.
A total of £1.6million has been secured from the national Getting Building Fund through the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership. The remaining cost will be met by the county council or other available funding sources.
The hub will aim to attract businesses from a range of professional services including solicitors, ICT firms and digital/tech businesses. It offers an ideal town centre location, close to amenities like the railway station. Work to create the enterprise hub is scheduled to be completed in early 2022.
Bringing part of the Shire Hall back into productive use will help revitalise Stafford town centre by bringing in new businesses. This project will form part of the wider long-term regeneration of the Shire Hall. It will also complement plans to repurpose and redevelop land occupied by vacant buildings – including the former magistrates court and county council’s own Wedgwood Building – off Eastgate Street.
Major recent investments in Stafford town centre include the recent renovation of Victoria Park and the Riverside retail development, both led by the borough council.
Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Alun Rogers said:
The former library space in the Shire Hall will provide ideal space for small businesses and support the town centre economy, particularly as it recovers from the pandemic period. It is a priority to the LEP to support small businesses and ensure they can operate in the right environment to enable them to thrive.
The Getting Building Fund is aimed at projects which are ready to go and can make a difference as soon as possible. Transforming the vacant space at the Shire Hall in to an entrepreneurial and collaboration hub is ideal and we look forward to working with our partners to bring it to life.”
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White said:
The Shire Hall is an iconic building in the heart of Stafford town centre and it is important we bring it back into productive use for the community and the local economy.
Much consideration has gone into the planning of the hall’s future use and our evidence and research has shown there is a need for provision in the town for small businesses. The enterprise hub facility will be in the former library area to the rear of the building and include all the facilities our target businesses will need. It will follow the model of our other enterprise centres with flexible tenancies and a support team on site.
A thriving enterprise hub in the Shire Hall will benefit the wider town centre economy and recent investment and planned regeneration undoubtedly make Stafford an attractive place to work and live. How we repurpose our town centres will be critical as we move out of the pandemic period.
We will be working closely with colleagues at Stafford Borough Council and the LEP throughout this year as we prepare for the hub’s opening in early 2022.”
Frances Beatty, cabinet member for economic development and planning at Stafford Borough Council, said:
It will be great to have the iconic Shire Hall brough back in to use after being mothballed for so long.
The Shire Hall will be our centrepiece for the renaissance of popular community events and gatherings in the Market Square and indeed across the town, in the post Covid world. It forms an integral part of the wider work that the borough council is leading on – including the Station Gateway and regeneration of the town centre.”