A plan to provide small businesses with premises,support and networking facilities is being investigated by Devon County Council.

THE possibility of Barnstaple being designated a work hub town is being investigated by Devon County Council.

Work hubs are a growing concept, providing a range of support for start-up and small businesses.

This can include business premises, either in small scale units or renting desk space on a flexible basis, a business postal address, high quality IT facilities as well as opportunities for networking and training.

Barnstaple is one of five market and coastal towns under investigation by Transform, an organisation based at Exeter University which has been appointed for the purpose by the county council.

Initial county council research has shown that market and coastal towns have the right qualities to support work hubs, including high numbers of self-employed people, active business networks and the quality of life which can attract small businesses which wish to work flexibly.

Councillor Will Mumford, Cabinet member for Economic Regeneration and strategic planning, said: “The county council is committed to promoting enterprises and developing a competitive economy. Support small businesses by providing access to professional workspace is an important element of this.

“We are currently looking at the feasibility of developing a network of managed work space facilities across the county to ensure that our businesses get the facilities, hep and support them need.”

Transform will outline detailed options by March next year. The other towns being investigated are Totnes, Newton Abbot, Exmouth and Axminster.