Northamptonshire is looking to become a beacon for sustainable construction innovation and attract dozens of green building start-ups, with a new £8 million centre of excellence set to open next year.
The new centre, called the iCON
, is being built in Daventry
and aims to capitalise on a major housebuilding
programme the county is set to undertake over the next 20 years.
The programme, which is said not to be affected by the Government’s public spending cuts, will help create thousands of new jobs and help push the county to the forefront of low carbon construction
and UK growth, according to Tim Bagshaw, head of Investment at Northamptonshire Enterprise Limited (NEL), the county’s inward investment company.
"There are significant plans and ambitions for Northamptonshire over the coming years, and in conjunction with the planned public sector investment
, there are numerous opportunities for construction firms, property investors and property developers to get involved," said Bagshaw, today, as he launched NEL’s investment prospectus in London.
"On the back of that we are very interested in new forms of construction technologies. It’s an area we’ve been looking at for a year or two now and is the reason we’ve invested in the iCON."
NEL is looking to attract around 60 firms to base themselves at the iCON and take advantage of the growing low carbon construction opportunities the county will soon be able to offer.
Located in Daventry town centre, the iCON aims to advance green technologies and inform future sustainable construction development in the UK.
The £8.5 million building has been designed to achieve an 'excellent’ rating from BREEAM
, a worldwide environmental assessment method. It will function as a multi-use centre, encouraging business innovation
in sustainable construction, and offering 60 office and light industrial spaces for start-up businesses
as well as conference facilities.
It will be supported by a sustainable construction iNet, run by Northamptonshire University, which will manage the iCON, and through iNET provide expertise and support to construction businesses in the East Midlands.
The iCON has been funded through the European Regional Development Fund, NEL, the East Midlands Development Agency and West Northamptonshire Development Corporation.
Having undergone significant regeneration ahead of today’s investment launch, Northamptonshire is set to become the single biggest growth area in the UK outside of London, according to NEL.
"Regional economic development is undergoing significant change in the UK but we remain committed to achieving the ambitious growth plans laid out for the county,"said Bagshaw.
The county is located at the heart of the 'Oxford-Cambridge Arc’, a key European hi-tech region, and is set to create 141,000 new jobs by 2021 and 167,000 new houses by 2031. Between now and 2021, £11 billion of public sector money is expected to be invested in transport and infrastructure.
Northamptonshire is close to London and the south east but doesn’t have the same problems, such as overcrowding and high property prices, according to Bagshaw. "It is typified by small and medium-sized towns with easy access to the countryside. But it also has excellent transport links, including five international airports within one hour of Northamptonshire," he said.
The iCON is scheduled to be open in the summer of 2011 and NEL is looking for firms to show their interest in leasing space now.
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