£18million Skills and Innovation Centre at Gateway 14 moves step closer

The full business case for the Skills and Innovation Centre has been approved.

£18million Skills and Innovation Centre at Gateway 14 moves step closer

Mid Suffolk District Council’s plan for a state-of-the-art Skills and Innovation Centre at Gateway 14, Stowmarket, has moved a step closer after the full business case was approved.

The centre, which will cost up to £18.75million, is thought to be the first of its kind in the area, offering opportunities for business growth, innovation, enterprise and training. 

The proposals will provide flexible onsite learning and teaching spaces, with a particular focus on emerging sectors linked to ‘green’ and ‘digital’ skills. 

The facility, which will be part of the Gateway 14 Freeport East site, will also offer business support services and become a hub for entrepreneurship, collaboration and innovation between occupiers in the building, on the wider Gateway 14 site and across the Freeport area.

The council’s cabinet approved the full business case at a meeting today and will now take the next steps to deliver the project which includes approval of the funding from Mid Suffolk Full Council and Freeport East Board.

Councillor Richard Winch, Cabinet Member for Housing and Property at Mid Suffolk District Council, said:

“This project is an incredibly exciting opportunity for our district, and for businesses and individuals looking to upskill, innovate and collaborate.

The Skills and Innovation Centre concept is a unique proposition and by bringing together the range of workspaces and facilities available and linked with West Suffolk College and the Universities of Suffolk and Essex, we are able to deliver a bespoke range of facilities and activities which will act as catalyst for wider inward investment and collaboration across the region and a hub for the development of the green economy.

We believe that once complete, the centre will unlock business growth, stimulate innovation, and provide many more opportunities for people in exciting and fast-growing job sectors.”

The centre will include a range of modern, technology-enabled workspaces, meeting/training rooms and shared/collaboration spaces. Careers and recruitment advice would be available, and a new local labour market data observatory, working across the range of local education partners and working with Suffolk County Council, would be created to identify areas of skills demand and supply.

The 35,000 sq ft building will be built to meet a minimum BREAAM standard of ‘excellent’ which will ensure it is highly sustainable and delivering significant energy and carbon savings. BREEAM excellent rated buildings on average reduce carbon emissions by 33%.

Development of the centre would enable the development of a wider innovation cluster at Gateway 14. 

Last month, the first unit on the site was handed over to The Range, which is setting up a new logistics and distribution centre creating 1,650 jobs.

Outline planning permission is already held for the whole Gateway 14 site. Gateway 14 Ltd, wholly owned by Mid Suffolk District Council, would need to submit a reserved matters application for the new Skills and Innovation Centre. 

CGI aerial shot of Gateway 14 site