Most people know it as the Co-op building on Regent Road but its’ full name is Centenary House. Long empty (apart from the Co-op food store), it’s now owned by the Council who behind the scenes have been in long discussions with The Exchange Creative Community Group about using it as a major Creative Community-Led Enterprise Hub.
The project will not only bring a long-neglected building in the West End back into productive, community-led use but increase local capacity to support more people, projects and enterprises setting up businesses. With creative community activity sitting alongside affordable co-working space and projects aimed at incubating existing and new enterprise locally.
With its largest funded support to date, WEM has agreed to earmark £100,000 toward the project based on the writing of a robust business plan and success in gaining match funds.
To achieve that WEM is also working to help develop the business plan itself.
This project is a major contribution to our Action Plan theme of ‘Enterprise and economy’ and will offer a range of support and opportunities for local people and individual enterprises through a single long term strategic project. In terms of ‘community’, the venue will host a range of opportunities for local residents and will add significantly to the theme of ‘place’ in improving the aspect of the main road and drawing people to the West End.
WEM’s contribution is part of the first phase which has an estimated budget of around £300,000 covering the first three years after which core operational costs aim to be self-sustainable. Other contributors include £50,000 agreed from Creative Civic Change as well as a potential £150,000 building asset transfer being negotiated with Lancaster City Council.
Future stages will aim to support further growth by offering affordable privately rented workspace on the upper floors and add other things such as a community cafe, shop, gallery, a tool library, workshop and meeting rooms as well as specialist studio facilities including printmaking, digital, textiles and woodwork. The benefits will stretch across the whole of Morecambe but also target specific activity for the West End.
You can read more about the project in our latest newsletter, available to download via the link below.
This story was covered by Greg Lambert on Beyond Radio on 17/11/20. You can listen to it here.
The story also appeared in the Lancaster Guardian here.