Business development hub taking shape

Business development hub taking shape

BUSINESS HUB: Work continues on Darlington Business Growth Hub. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

BUSINESS HUB: Work continues on Darlington Business Growth Hub. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

First published in News

THE skyline of a North-East town is changing as work continues on a £6.6m office block councillors hope will create and sustain hundreds of jobs.

Darlington Borough Council says building work on the town's Business Growth Hub is ahead of schedule.

When complete, the building will house up to 64 new and small businesses on the Central Park enterprise zone, close to the railway station.

The council says the development will create and support more than 350 jobs over a 15-year period.

Funding for the project has come from the European Regional Development Fund (£3.3m) and the Homes and Communities Agency (£3m).

The works include a 3,200sq m office block divided up into individual offices with a communal entrance and lobby area.

Building contractor Willmott Dixon has a target of using 70 per cent local labour throughout the project.

The business growth hub forms part of the wider regeneration of Central Park.

It is hoped the facility will kick-start enterprise development on the site and set the scene for a new commercial and business centre close to the railway station and the education hub of Darlington College and Teesside University.

Construction work is expected to be completed by next spring.

Once open, the hub will be operated by the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) Ltd, which has a track record in managing and developing so-called 'incubation' sites.

Council leader Bill Dixon said: "I am delighted to see work progressing well and that, in a matter of months, we will see new businesses taking advantage of the facilities and begin growing their business and creating new jobs in Darlington."

David Howell, director of operations for the BIC, added: "We’re thrilled to be involved in this exciting project and we’re committed to developing a centre that will not only accommodate businesses but provide a real hub for enterprise activity in the area.

"The BIC celebrates its 20th anniversary this month and during this time we have helped to create more than 6,000 jobs across the North-East.

"This project will enable us to build upon this work and support the development of many more."

Comments (10)

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8:52pm Tue 10 Jun 14

Darloresident says...

Cood to see. I welcome this development and hope it is a great success.
Cood to see. I welcome this development and hope it is a great success. Darloresident
  • Score: 12

10:04pm Tue 10 Jun 14

thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth says...

The word 'hope' in the first paragraph s a little worrying don't you think?

I don't suppose it matters really - after all it's only free money that's being spent again.
The word 'hope' in the first paragraph s a little worrying don't you think? I don't suppose it matters really - after all it's only free money that's being spent again. thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth
  • Score: -6

11:40pm Tue 10 Jun 14

DarloXman says...

"If you build it 'they' will come." Really? How many empty offices do we already have in Darlington? Morton Palms still has vacant office blocks that have never ever been occupied!

Where would you want to have your offices? In a town where where the council doesn't even bother to cut the grassed areas they are responsible for or address the multitude of pot holes in their road networks, or somewhere like the well developed and maintained Stockton Riverside.

I recall the last Echo article on this development when we had a picture of Mr Dixon breaking ground suggested that 2000 new jobs will be created by this project, now it is just 350! Give it a few more months and we will be down to single figures.

New businesses need help with many things - foe example financing, understanding the legislation they have to comply with (employment law, health and safety, tax) - having a swanky office in a rundown part of town with poor road access is not normally high up on their immediate needs!
"If you build it 'they' will come." Really? How many empty offices do we already have in Darlington? Morton Palms still has vacant office blocks that have never ever been occupied! Where would you want to have your offices? In a town where where the council doesn't even bother to cut the grassed areas they are responsible for or address the multitude of pot holes in their road networks, or somewhere like the well developed and maintained Stockton Riverside. I recall the last Echo article on this development when we had a picture of Mr Dixon breaking ground suggested that 2000 new jobs will be created by this project, now it is just 350! Give it a few more months and we will be down to single figures. New businesses need help with many things - foe example financing, understanding the legislation they have to comply with (employment law, health and safety, tax) - having a swanky office in a rundown part of town with poor road access is not normally high up on their immediate needs! DarloXman
  • Score: 4

4:02am Wed 11 Jun 14

SirLance says...

Should have been built on a major access road on the outskirts of town.

Towards Favordale nearby the A1 M would have made sense methinks?
Should have been built on a major access road on the outskirts of town. Towards Favordale nearby the A1 M would have made sense methinks? SirLance
  • Score: -2

6:57am Wed 11 Jun 14

stupid73 says...

I see the usual neigh sayers are out again.

Any investment in this town is good news. This is the "START" of the business/enterprise development, not the END.

There are lots of positive developments in this town which can only be a good thing. DFE moving to a town centre location (more people in the town), New cinema/hotel etc (more people in the town), the whole Central Park development, fixing the inner ring road, Northgate house being turned into flats.

All good stuff as far as I am concerned.
I see the usual neigh sayers are out again. Any investment in this town is good news. This is the "START" of the business/enterprise development, not the END. There are lots of positive developments in this town which can only be a good thing. DFE moving to a town centre location (more people in the town), New cinema/hotel etc (more people in the town), the whole Central Park development, fixing the inner ring road, Northgate house being turned into flats. All good stuff as far as I am concerned. stupid73
  • Score: 3

12:24pm Wed 11 Jun 14

Lionel1 says...

stupid73 wrote:
I see the usual neigh sayers are out again. Any investment in this town is good news. This is the "START" of the business/enterprise development, not the END. There are lots of positive developments in this town which can only be a good thing. DFE moving to a town centre location (more people in the town), New cinema/hotel etc (more people in the town), the whole Central Park development, fixing the inner ring road, Northgate house being turned into flats. All good stuff as far as I am concerned.
I agree with you stupid73. I think the Council need to tighten up on some of the numbers they release for these projects but at least they're being proactive. Something I'm sure they get panned for if no development was happening. But then again people always have the 'free parking' issue to whine about...
[quote][p][bold]stupid73[/bold] wrote: I see the usual neigh sayers are out again. Any investment in this town is good news. This is the "START" of the business/enterprise development, not the END. There are lots of positive developments in this town which can only be a good thing. DFE moving to a town centre location (more people in the town), New cinema/hotel etc (more people in the town), the whole Central Park development, fixing the inner ring road, Northgate house being turned into flats. All good stuff as far as I am concerned.[/p][/quote]I agree with you stupid73. I think the Council need to tighten up on some of the numbers they release for these projects but at least they're being proactive. Something I'm sure they get panned for if no development was happening. But then again people always have the 'free parking' issue to whine about... Lionel1
  • Score: 1

12:24pm Wed 11 Jun 14

Lionel1 says...

stupid73 wrote:
I see the usual neigh sayers are out again. Any investment in this town is good news. This is the "START" of the business/enterprise development, not the END. There are lots of positive developments in this town which can only be a good thing. DFE moving to a town centre location (more people in the town), New cinema/hotel etc (more people in the town), the whole Central Park development, fixing the inner ring road, Northgate house being turned into flats. All good stuff as far as I am concerned.
I agree with you stupid73. I think the Council need to tighten up on some of the numbers they release for these projects but at least they're being proactive. Something I'm sure they get panned for if no development was happening. But then again people always have the 'free parking' issue to whine about...
[quote][p][bold]stupid73[/bold] wrote: I see the usual neigh sayers are out again. Any investment in this town is good news. This is the "START" of the business/enterprise development, not the END. There are lots of positive developments in this town which can only be a good thing. DFE moving to a town centre location (more people in the town), New cinema/hotel etc (more people in the town), the whole Central Park development, fixing the inner ring road, Northgate house being turned into flats. All good stuff as far as I am concerned.[/p][/quote]I agree with you stupid73. I think the Council need to tighten up on some of the numbers they release for these projects but at least they're being proactive. Something I'm sure they get panned for if no development was happening. But then again people always have the 'free parking' issue to whine about... Lionel1
  • Score: 0

1:12pm Wed 11 Jun 14

ron_forthehills says...

stupid73 wrote:
I see the usual neigh sayers are out again.

Any investment in this town is good news. This is the "START" of the business/enterprise development, not the END.

There are lots of positive developments in this town which can only be a good thing. DFE moving to a town centre location (more people in the town), New cinema/hotel etc (more people in the town), the whole Central Park development, fixing the inner ring road, Northgate house being turned into flats.

All good stuff as far as I am concerned.
DFE moving into the town (more traffic, polution) New cinema/hotel (more traffic polution) Central park development ( more traffic polution) and why do we need new buildings anyway? the old Tax office standing empty?
DarloXman is right, loads of UNUSED office space in Morton Palms, I cannot think of a worse place to put an office block.
[quote][p][bold]stupid73[/bold] wrote: I see the usual neigh sayers are out again. Any investment in this town is good news. This is the "START" of the business/enterprise development, not the END. There are lots of positive developments in this town which can only be a good thing. DFE moving to a town centre location (more people in the town), New cinema/hotel etc (more people in the town), the whole Central Park development, fixing the inner ring road, Northgate house being turned into flats. All good stuff as far as I am concerned.[/p][/quote]DFE moving into the town (more traffic, polution) New cinema/hotel (more traffic polution) Central park development ( more traffic polution) and why do we need new buildings anyway? the old Tax office standing empty? DarloXman is right, loads of UNUSED office space in Morton Palms, I cannot think of a worse place to put an office block. ron_forthehills
  • Score: 2

3:17pm Wed 11 Jun 14

chansm79 says...

Surely with all the cuts that are being made, consolidation would be the answer? Yes, there are lots of works being carried out that are invested in by project funds, as opposed to direct council payments, however who will be responsible for maintaining the new roads to be built around these new developments, or for powering the new street lights?

Also, the utilities that are being stretched a lil' bit thinner - more water, sewerage, electricity, gas - all running on an infrastructure that is struggling as it is.

I would assume that with reference to road access for this site, the Council will either produce a revolutionary new junction at Parkgate/Yarm Road/Neasham Road to deal with the supposed increase in volume.... however, that will cripple the network of roads that exist already., unless they too are to be updated? Alternatively, they may direct traffic through Central Park onto Haughton Road, and just close off traffic into that estate.

There are more than enough office areas within Darlington - as mentioned, we have Morton Palms, Lingfield Point, smaller units available near the EE/Orange site as well, plus other office buildings bang in the centre of town (Regent House, as Ron said, and Northgate House could have been a contender if they weren't going to change it into empty flats instead of empty offices) - could the council not perhaps come up with incentives for people to take out leases on these? 1/2 price business rates for the first year if you sign in to a 3 year lease or something? I don't know just what levels would be appropriate, but it would be better than more offices that are not needed.

New enterprises are springing up, but with the improvements in mobile phones, internet, and cloud storage, a lot of people don't need to go to the office to work - they can happily work from a desk at home, or a laptop anywhere.
Surely with all the cuts that are being made, consolidation would be the answer? Yes, there are lots of works being carried out that are invested in by project funds, as opposed to direct council payments, however who will be responsible for maintaining the new roads to be built around these new developments, or for powering the new street lights? Also, the utilities that are being stretched a lil' bit thinner - more water, sewerage, electricity, gas - all running on an infrastructure that is struggling as it is. I would assume that with reference to road access for this site, the Council will either produce a revolutionary new junction at Parkgate/Yarm Road/Neasham Road to deal with the supposed increase in volume.... however, that will cripple the network of roads that exist already., unless they too are to be updated? Alternatively, they may direct traffic through Central Park onto Haughton Road, and just close off traffic into that estate. There are more than enough office areas within Darlington - as mentioned, we have Morton Palms, Lingfield Point, smaller units available near the EE/Orange site as well, plus other office buildings bang in the centre of town (Regent House, as Ron said, and Northgate House could have been a contender if they weren't going to change it into empty flats instead of empty offices) - could the council not perhaps come up with incentives for people to take out leases on these? 1/2 price business rates for the first year if you sign in to a 3 year lease or something? I don't know just what levels would be appropriate, but it would be better than more offices that are not needed. New enterprises are springing up, but with the improvements in mobile phones, internet, and cloud storage, a lot of people don't need to go to the office to work - they can happily work from a desk at home, or a laptop anywhere. chansm79
  • Score: -1

2:02pm Sat 14 Jun 14

loan_star says...

All very well building more office space, especially as already stated there is plenty still unused elsewhere in town, but whats about manufacturing units? We have a handful of smaller industrial estates, mostly on Albert Hill, that can accommodate a lot of small businesses but then when these need to expand there is a big leap from 1000 sq ft to 5000 upwards, nothing in between. This is an area that DBC should have considered for the new development.
All very well building more office space, especially as already stated there is plenty still unused elsewhere in town, but whats about manufacturing units? We have a handful of smaller industrial estates, mostly on Albert Hill, that can accommodate a lot of small businesses but then when these need to expand there is a big leap from 1000 sq ft to 5000 upwards, nothing in between. This is an area that DBC should have considered for the new development. loan_star
  • Score: 0

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