Green light for £1.5m Enterprise Arcade

Sefton planners give go-ahead for new £1.5m Southport Enterprise Arcade that will create a digital sector hub in the town. Andrew Brown reports

Crown Buildings
Crown Buildings in Southport, home to the Enterprise Arcade project


A new £1.5m hub for digital businesses and entrepreneurs is set to become a reality after the project secured planning approval.

One of the major ambitions of the Southport Town Deal project, it will see the conversion of the four-storey Grade II Listed Crown Buildings at 9-11 Eastbank Street into a new high tech, collaborative and affordable workspace for small businesses.

Southport Enterprise Arcade is part of an ambition to diversify Southport’s economy, provide a greater number of skilled jobs, and create more opportunities to allow young people to stay in their home town.

It will create a CreaTech sector in Southport town centre, offering flexible and adaptable workspaces for both new and established digital, creative and tech business people to work together.

The project will utilise upper floors which were previously occupied by Sefton Council, along with the former Gallary cafe bar and grill and the former Friend Mobile shop on the ground floor.

Funding to transform the 15,000 sq ft site is being made possible through the Southport Town Deal with design work being carried out by K2 Architects.

Baltic Creative CIC, which has helped transform the Baltic Triangle district of Liverpool into a fast-growing creative and digital hub, is the preferred operator for the facility.

Last year the Government awarded £38.5m for investment projects in Southport through Town Deal funding.

Other schemes include the new Marine Lake Events Centre, which will replace the former Southport Theatre and Convention Centre; a water and light show on Marine Lake; and ‘Les Transformations de Southport which will see public realm improvements in the town centre.

Town Deal funding has already supported the Southport BID scheme to install 300,000 lights along Lord Street and the conversion of Southport Market into a food, drink and events venue.

Planning permission has now been granted by Sefton Council for Southport Enterprise Arcade to go ahead.

In his report, chief Sefton Council planning officer Derek McKenzie, said: “The refurbishment of the buildings and bringing the floor space back into use would provide more footfall to the area and contribute to sustaining the vitality and viability of the town centre.

“The proposed external works would be sympathetic, and the new shop fronts would be an improvement on the existing frontages. Therefore, the proposal would enhance the character and appearance of the listed building as well as the Conservation Area.

“Overall, the refurbishment works would help find the optimum viable use for the building that is compatible with the long-term conservation of the heritage asset.The proposals would help to support the local economy and regeneration by bringing the building back into use.”

Crown Buildings were constructed in the mid 1920s, replacing an earlier 19th century block of shops.

They surround Cambridge Walks and Cambridge Arcade, which will see £400,000 invested by Sefton Council this year to renovate the Victorian canopy above it.


Enterprise Arcade
The Enterprise Arcade hub will be created in Crown Buildings in Southport


The ground floor of the Crown Buildings would remain in commercial use, with two existing units, the former Gallary Grill cafe and the former mobile phone shop next door, amalgamated into one cafe.

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

Southport Enterprise Arcade will boast “a lively open-plan café space” on the ground floor. The first floor will host a single anchor office unit.

READ MORE: Southport rival to Just Eat and Deliveroo saves takeaways £250,000

Second floor will contain growing spaces designed to accommodate businesses with four to 12 employees. 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.

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, aimed at creatively inspiring a change in the town centre’s entrepreneurial landscape.

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

This article first appeared in Stand Up For Southport

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