£2.1m upgrade will provide space for 38 new North Devon jobs
Ollie Heptinstall LDRS
- Credit: Paul Box
A popular new centre for start-up businesses in North Devon is to be extended after councillors gave the go-ahead.
Known as the ‘Node,’ the purpose-built enterprise centre at Roundswell South, Barnstaple opened in February and is already ahead of its target for office spaces occupied.
Members of Devon County Council’s ruling cabinet have approved phase two, with the council contributing up to £1.6 million of the £2.1 million cost to extend the centre by a quarter and create a further 38 jobs.
The council owns the land and will retain freehold ownership of the building, which it says is a ‘strategically important project for the area’ given it claims North Devon has some of the most ‘economically deprived’ parts of the county.
The report to the cabinet says: “The average full-time (residence based) earnings in North Devon and Torridge are £475.40 and £512.40 respectively, compared with a South West average of £558.40 and a national average of £585.50.
“It also has low rates of business start-ups, particularly high-value start-ups, and low business churn. This is partly because of a lack of infrastructure and [collection] of innovative businesses and linked support.”
“Barnstaple is one of the towns most impacted by covid-19 in Devon with a rise in the number of Universal Credit claimants. This additional workspace combined with business support will aid the creation of more job opportunities and give greater visibility of enterprise infrastructure to local aspirant entrepreneurs.”
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Councillor Rufus Gilbert (Conservative, Salcombe), cabinet member for economic recovery and skills, said: “This is a further boost for North Devon and is a very good news story that the success thereby warrants the expansion proposed.
“This supports all of Devon County Council’s, the government’s and North Devon’s economic recovery plans and is fully supported by the North Devon Innovation Board.”
Councillor Frank Biederman (Independent, Fremington Rural) said the expansion was ‘much needed’ and claimed the current office space was now more occupied. “Considering we’re just coming out of a pandemic as well; I think that’s quite incredible.”
The south west Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has approved match funding of £450,000, which requires approval in November for the extension to go ahead. Subject to gaining planning permission next year, it should be open by late summer 2023.