Creative entrepreneurs in Tunbridge Wells could soon be benefiting from a new hub in which to develop their businesses, it has been announced.
The joint partnership, comprising the borough council, county council and private companies, is considering a property in Monson Road in which to base the hub.
One of the private companies on board with the scheme is Tunbridge Wells Media Centre, a desk rental firm with premises in Lonsdale Gardens and Newton Road.
The hub will be based on the same business model as the media centre, in which entrepreneurs and the self-employed rent office desks for a monthly fee.
But, importantly, space at the new hub will only be available for those in creative industries in order to create a supportive environment focused entirely on this sector of the local economy.
With Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) taking the role of ‘proactive landlord’, it will be left to Tunbridge Wells Media Centre to run the premises, having been successful in beating competitors to win the five-year tender.
Managing director Simon McArdle said: “Winning the tender to work on this project was fantastic for us and we’re really looking forward to evolving Tunbridge Wells Media Centre into the creative hub, expanding in size and to support more of the town’s thriving creative sector.
“This project has been two years in the making, we have been canvassing opinion among potential clients and received a lot of positive feedback.”
Explaining how it is envisioned the hub will be run, Mr McArdle’s business partner Dominic Johnson said: “The idea is to give those in the creative sector a place where they can collaborate and network.
“At the moment, we’re looking at providing about 65 desks but some may be ‘hot desks’ in order to allow more people to use the hub.”
He added that there would be joint training schemes, backed by government funding, and a ‘quiet studio vibe’ alongside a central place to network.
Mr Johnson said: “It’s very exciting. There are an enormous amount of microbusinesses in Tunbridge Wells which operate in the creative sector. This sort of thing is very common in places like Brighton but is exactly what this town needs.”
Cllr Jane March, TWBC cabinet member for economic development, said: “The council is pleased to be working in partnership with Workspace Collaborations Ltd, and Kent County Council, to develop workspace for local creative businesses in one of our own buildings. TWBC is keen to support the growth of the cultural and creative sector in the borough to create new jobs and training opportunities for local people.”