The following article has been released by Colchester Borough Council:
In autumn 2015 work began on an exciting regeneration scheme to help boost the economy of Colchester. The Creative Business Centre project kicked off the redevelopment of the Old Police Station on Queen Street in the town centre, to create an incubator and hub unit for creative sector businesses.
Builders are now installing the internal features having completed the overhaul of the roof, retaining the old slates wherever possible and are now on course to open in September 2016.
The centre will house 43 business units of various sizes and up to 250 people will be able to work there. It also has a ground floor café, kitchen, a large courtyard and a screening room for presentations. Crucially, for companies in the creative industry, all residents enjoy the very latest in broadband technology - symmetrical gigabit connectivity by pure fibre networking - 10x faster than what is currently considered to be 'ultrafast'.
A key benefit of this regeneration project is that it is enabling apprentices to gain valuable 'on the job' training and experience in the construction industry. Colchester has 2,750 people participating in apprenticeships; the third highest level of apprentices in the East of England and four apprentices are receiving training as they work on the centre.
One of the apprentices, Thomas Williamson, speaking of his experience working with Phelan Construction on the project stated: "I started working on the centre in January. I've certainly gained an amazing range of skills from working alongside such experienced people. I enjoy working with Phelan and TrAC were great for finding me this placement."
Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth and Planning, Councillor Bill Frame stated:"It's great that businesses will be moving in soon. It's well known that the networking of ideas and support made possible by such hubs are very attractive and of great benefit to companies in the creative industry."
"The creative sector is very significant for Colchester, representing 18% of businesses in the town, and employing around 5,600 jobs. I am extremely pleased that this project has enabled young people, such as Thomas to gain valuable 'on the job' training and skills during the redevelopment of this key project."
TrAC is a social enterprise which operates across the East of England. It works with construction clients and contractors to increase the number of apprenticeships available by piecing together placements on construction projects so that more young people can experience and enjoy the careers that the construction industry has to offer. To date, 100% of all TrAC apprentices who have completed their apprenticeship have gone into full time employment.
Matthew Jolly, Phelan Construction Client Relationship Manager said: "We are delighted not only to have won this landmark project with Colchester Borough Council, but also that this has enabled us to offer an apprenticeship place to Thomas as a result."
Funding for the project was secured from Essex County Council, S106 and New Homes Bonus monies to refurbish the building, help reinvigorate the area and help 'prime the pump' for Colchester's Creative Quarter.
Cllr Kevin Bentley, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth said: "It's fantastic to see this project nearing completion. Even before it is 'open for business', this new Centre is already giving young people a chance to build a career and develop new skills. Once opened it will support new and existing businesses, create jobs and strengthen the local economy; it's a prime example of how Essex Means Business!"
You can follow the Creative Business Centre on instagram here: www.instagram.com/colchcreative