Report of the Head of Economy, Enterprise and Skills (EES/21/3), seeking approval for funding to enable Phase 2 of the North Devon Enterprise Centre to be constructed, attached.
An Impact Assessment is attached for the attention of Members at this meeting.
(a) that the capital funding of up to £640,000 to enable Phase 2 of the North Devon Enterprise Centre to be constructed be approved, subject to agreeing a capital grant from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership;
(b) that the increase in revenue funding of up to £75,000 to be met by revenue at outturn also be endorsed; and
(c) that delegated authority be given to the Head of Economy Enterprise and Skills, in consultation with the County Treasurer and the Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills, to agree the capital grant funding with the LEP.
(Councillors Biederman, Brazil and Hannaford attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the Report of the Head of Economy, Enterprise and Skills (EES/21/3) which sought approval for funding to enable Phase 2 of the North Devon Enterprise Centre to be constructed, the Report having been circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.
The North Devon Enterprise Centre, now known as the “Node” was a business incubation facility, supporting small business growth, located on the Council’s employment land at Roundswell South, Barnstaple.
The Council invested over £574,782 in Phase 1, along with significant match funding from the HotSW LEP and European Regional Development Fund, totalling an investment of £5.3 million. Following a successful opening in February 2021, 57% of offices had already been let, although at the meeting it was suggested the figure was higher than the 57% reported.
The proposal was for additional capital and revenue funding to match with external funding from the LEP to bring forward phase two of the Node. The LEP had indicated a minimum of £450,000 capital grant was available, subject to signing off the business case by the LEP Board in November 2021. The costs in the Report would be finalised by a tender process for a contractor using the Southern Construction Framework.
The investment would see the Node’s footprint increase by a further 26% producing 537sqm of commercial floor space and the creation of an additional 38 jobs with further business support, networking and mentoring from the operator currently managing the main building.
The aim was to have the building open in late summer 2023, subject to completing planning by January 2022 and construction beginning in early summer. This investment would support the economic recovery in northern Devon and support the ongoing sustainability of the Node, as well as providing a flagship building for the surrounding employment site.
An Impact Assessment had been also circulated for the attention of Members which highlighted that the operator of the centre was required to comply with the Council’s policies on equality and diversity. The operator itself was a certified B Corp which indicated its positive approach to equality, diversity and sustainability. There were no unmanageable impacts outlined in the assessment as it indicated the impacts on the local area were positive and no negative impacts had been identified.
The Cabinet noted that the scheme would support the Council’s economic recovery policies, create jobs postpandemic, provide additional workspace for local businesses, help the Node to continue to act as a flagship for the wider Roundswell South site, support the sustainability of the current operation and support economic growth in a deprived part of the County.
The match funding from the HotSW LEP meant the Scheme demonstrated good value for money and enabled the additional workspace to be available during the second half of 2023.
The matter having been debated and the ... view the full minutes text for item 54