Could Southport become a digital hot-spot?

Techedia’s £1m HQ creating 75 jobs and the proposed £1.5m Digital Arcade are set to place Southport firmly on the digital map. Andrew Brown reports

Computer, laptop, keyboard, digital
Southport could be a hotspot for digital industries with forthcoming investment 


Southport is set to become a digital hotspot and could become a magnet for businesses in the tech, creative and professional services industries.

A full planning application has this week been submitted for the new £1.5 million Southport Enterprise Arcade, one of the major schemes in the Southport Town regeneration initiative.

The transformation of the 15,000sq ft Crown Buildings at 9-11 Eastbank Street in Southport town centre will create a vibrant ‘createch’ sector in the coastal town, offering flexible and adaptable workspaces in both new and established digital, creative and tech business people to work together.

Just around the corner, on Corporation Street, IT solutions firm Techedia is about to open its £1m new HQ, creating 75 new tech jobs.

The hope is that the new Southport Enterprise Arcade and Techedia will encourage others to follow. This will help to diversify Southport’s economy from being tourism led with mainly semi-skilled and seasonal employment opportunities to one that is attractive to talented, highly-skilled workers.

The arcade, to be run by Baltic Creative CIC, will boast “a lively open-plan café space” on the ground floor. The first floor will host a single anchor office unit.

The second floor will contain growing spaces designed to accommodate businesses with four to 12 employees while the third floor will be home to individual co-working spaces and start-up workspace for businesses with one to two employees.

The redevelopment is being led by Sefton Council with the design work being done by K2 Architects in Liverpool.

In their submission, they said: “Southport is a resort town with a traditional focus on health and wellbeing. At the core of this strategy lies the business of retail, leisure and entertainment supported by a service sector reliant on semi-skilled workers.

“Despite almost 200 years of prosperous activity in this field, the town has struggled to adapt to the shifting culture of social and economic attitudes of the late 20th century. Consequently, it has experienced a gradual economic downturn, the long-term impact of which has been significant.

“Its population is becoming increasingly concentrated at the older end of the social order, while the younger, economically active population are migrating to the cities for a better quality of life.


Crown Buildings
Crown Buildings will be home to the Southport Enterprise Arcade
Eastbank Street
An artist’s impression how a transformed Eastbank Street in Southport could look


“Southport’s natural environment and built heritage offers enormous potential in addressing the debate on what a lifestyle focused on health and wellbeing should look like in the 21st Century.

“However, it currently lacks the basic workspace infrastructure to successfully deliver on the live, work and play narrative that drives modern towns and cities.

“Furthermore, coupled with its relative connectivity to the Northern Powerhouse, Southport has the potential to offer opportunities to attract more mobile businesses from sectors other than tourism, such as the creative, digital, and professional services sectors.

Understanding what attracts these firms and the wider link between amenity value and economic development will be critical to ensuring successful outcomes for the Town Deal.”

Earlier this year Southport secured £38.5m from the Government through the Southport Town Deal.

Southport Enterprise Arcade is one of those schemes, while £33.3m has gone towards creating the new Marine Lake Events Centre and the light show in Marine Lake.

More funding has supported the conversion of Southport Market into a new food, drink and events space and the provision of a ‘boulevard of light’ along Lord Street in an initiative led by Southport BID.

Funding is also supporting ‘Les Transformations de Southport’ which will create better connectivity and a more attractive environment in the town centre.

K2 Architects said: “The Town Deal represents an opportunity to attract new skills and jobs into the area.

“It offers a vehicle for investment in the town centre’s social infrastructure, creating spaces for local entrepreneurs and professionals to meet and deliver projects bound together by the spirit of local pride.

“Providing such spaces offers a strong foundation for developing a local skills base and improving the community’s social health and wellbeing in keeping with an attractive, modern, and progressive town.”

Sefton Council appointed K2 Architects in late 2020 to prepare a RIBA Stage 1 Initial Project Brief, exploring a range of workspace options for Crown Buildings, a 1920s, four-storey municipal office block at the junction of Eastbank Street and King Street, to be known as The Enterprise Arcade.

This is aimed at creatively inspiring a change in the town centre’s entrepreneurial landscape and support their emerging business case.

This study formed part of Southport’s successful Town Deal application.

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