Businesses are already lining up to take space in the newly-launched £4 million King’s Lynn Innovation Centre.
Although the project is still at the planning stage, the developers have received encouraging response and a flurry of inquiries from potential tenants.
Kevin Horne, chief executive officer for Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services which will operate the centre, said that within hours of the detailed proposals being made public several firms had shown a keen interest.
He said: “They are all from the Lynn area and are just the type of businesses we are aiming to attract. It is a very encouraging start and we are expecting more.”
Mr Horne said the reaction to the public consultation when the plans were put on display at the beginning of this month was equally positive. He said: “I can honestly say that no-one had anything negative to say about the project.”
The proposals have now been submitted to the borough planners and the target completion date is 2016. In the meantime, advertisements will be appearing in the Lynn News looking for contractors to carry out the work on the project.
KLIC will be sited on the Nar Ouse Regeneration Area beside the A47 in an eye-catching landmark building that will provide flexible office space and conference facilities. It will be a hub for new and growing businesses businesses providing high-calibre one-to-one advice, mentoring, office space, workshops, and access to financial support for local businesses. A state-of-the-art commercial workspace, the centre will act as a catalyst for further highly skilled employment opportunities on the Nar Ouse site.
The innovation centre has been made possible with a £2.5 million loan from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnerships, Growing Places Fund, and £1 million of funding from the Borough Council.
NWES and the borough council which is their partner in the project are aiming for a high specification facility which will provide the optimum environment for business, enterprise and innovation to flourish.
He cites a similar project at Yarmouth as an example of how well these centres can work. A firm which works in the maritime offshore energy industry started up there with two men and now employs more than 350 workers.
The lead architect has also spoken to the Lynn News explaining how he set about creating such an important building.
Philip Bodie, of Feilden+Mawson, of Norwich, said: “As an architect, it was not lost on me or my colleagues that by securing its place on the £4m King’s Lynn Innovation Centre project, we were given the opportunity by NWES and West Norfolk Borough Council to be part of something very exciting and of significant importance to King’s Lynn.’
“At the early stages of the design process, I spent much time on the site and the surrounding area to get a feel for how a new building would be visually perceived from all angles but specifically the A47 and the Nar Ouse Way. It was important not only to walk over the site but to drive both east and west along the A47. This was done to analyse the length of time a motorist would have to view the site and what visual impact could be achieved in that split second. I enjoyed letting my imagination roam while sketching on site and was conscious of the clients’ aspirations that the new building should act as new King’s Lynn landmark.’
‘As lead architect, I believed that it should act as a gateway benchmark of high quality for future commercial projects at the NORA site. As a result, I started with its relationship to the A47, as I wanted to showcase King’s Lynn’s commitment to the revitalising of the West Norfolk economy.
‘Next, I considered the noise from the road and the fact that the KLIC site was much lower than the A47. This led to the belief that the building needed a tall element at the southern end facing the A47 acting as the visual ‘draw’ with the building reducing in height at the north end. When viewed from the rest of the NORA commercial site, we wanted the building to be as transparent as possible so that the business of business could be clearly seen.’
“Feilden+Mawson have been designing Innovation Centres for a very long time and I have enjoyed developing ideas during my 15 years with the company on projects such as the Boathouse in Wisbech, ORBIS at Lowestoft and the Henderson Centre in Norwich.
“At KLIC, the design team has been working closely with the client and project stakeholders to develop the ideas during those early site visits and it has been a pleasure to see that the current designs are faithful to the original vision.”