First-of-its-kind office space approved for Andover
Andover is set to benefit from the creation of first-of-its-kind office space after Test Valley Borough Council received grant backing for a modern, co-working desk rental facility, right in the heart of the town centre.
The council is working with IncuHive Group Limited to create a new ‘IncuHive Space’ on the fourth and fifth floors of Chantry House and has just secured more than £200k in grant funding from the M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to deliver the project.
This exciting new facility will be aimed at small businesses, start‐ups and individuals currently working from home. It reflects a need for flexible space in town centres, both in the short-term as they begin to emerge from lockdown and in the longer-term as new working practices are adopted and the nation’s high streets continue to evolve and adapt.
It is expected to reduce the need for office workers to undertake long commutes by providing equally well-equipped and better located accommodation, avoiding the need to travel to major cities.
The proposal from IncuHive will see the refurbishment of more than 4,700 sq ft of commercial floorspace to create six individual office spaces and 30 rentable desks, together with a recreation area and reception facilities. They will offer photo and video studio facilities alongside creative space for artists and “fab lab” innovation space.
It is also hoped that the new facility will assist with the town’s economic recovery and drive up footfall in the High Street.
The move will mark the start of the journey towards a new era for Andover, which will see a greater mixture of work, living and leisure uses in the town centre.
The project is expected to take around two months to complete, with work set to begin in the coming weeks.
Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, councillor Phil North, said: “We are incredibly grateful to the Enterprise M3 LEP for providing the funding to enable this project to deliver vibrant, modern and innovative new office space to go ahead. If anyone has seen other examples of IncuHive spaces they’ll know that they are really exciting, inviting and are brilliant settings in which to work. This is great news for the town and is also a fantastic example of the benefits of working with partners to get the very best outcome for our communities.
“The proposal is very much in line with our plans for the wider redevelopment of the town centre, which will see a greater mix of work and leisure uses, alongside traditional retail. Although we have longer term plans to demolish the Chantry Centre, we will do this in phases, so the investment in this particular part of the building is very much needed now and will help the High Street. If it becomes really popular, which I’m sure it will, we’ll ensure we continue to accommodate this type of facility and the people who use it in our redevelopment plans.
“The news earlier this year about the Arcadia Group is testament to the changing face of high streets up and down the country and we must guard against that by creating a vibrant, diverse and robust town centre that is fit for the future.”
The proposal has been designed to comply with social distancing rules, and the council and IncuHive will put in place various precautions to safeguard users. In providing a local facility as an alternative to commuting to London, it will reduce the strain on public transport and assist with carbon reduction.
Dave Axam, chair of the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “I am delighted that we will be able to support this pilot project as part of our Economic Recovery and Renewal Action Plan, which will open up an innovative new work space to enable people to work closer to home.
“During COVID-19 many of us have discovered new ways of working, with many of us home working, but we know this is not always easy or possible for all of us. This kind of collaborative new work space is an excellent initiative, it strives to repurpose some of our redundant town centre space so that people, and small businesses, can work in a local COVID safe sustainable environment which as well as meeting this local need, supports other town centre businesses and reduces travel thus helps us achieve a more sustainable economy.”
Steven Northam, founder and CEO of The IncuHive Group Limited, added: “We are excited to have secured LEP funding to support the development of a new IncuHive Space in the heart of Andover, offering an innovative mix of flexible office space, co-working and business start-up facilities. This will be our 8th site in the south and we have no doubt it will be another great space to support the local business community in Andover.”