Tamworth gets Creative!

Thursday, 3rd April 2014

Ambitious plans for a £3 million Town Centre regeneration project – along with the introduction of an exciting new creative quarter – have been exclusively unveiled by Tamworth Borough Council.

The Creative Quarter would provide a busy and attractive square in the heart of the town centre, focussing on the area around the library, Assembly Rooms, Carnegie Centre and Philip Dix Centre.

There are further plans to extend to the former Gungate shopping centre and improve links across the town centre.

In a move to provide a busier and more vibrant town centre, the Creative Quarter will also provide improved opportunities for businesses, while capitalising on Tamworth’s culture and heritage sites. The area also sits on one of Tamworth’s busiest bus routes, meaning it is ideally situated to attract town centre visitors.

As well as plans to develop and improve the 125-year-old Assembly Rooms, the project could see a new restaurant based in the Carnegie Centre, 15 incubation units to help establish small and new businesses in the Philip Dix Centre, improvements to the library, while improving links from the railway station, town centre and Ventura Park.

The plans for Tamworth Creative Quarter - click to enlarge (courtesy of Tamworth Borough Council)

The plans for Tamworth Creative Quarter – click to enlarge (courtesy of Tamworth Borough Council)

The majority of the £3 million funding would come from external sources, such as Heritage Lottery Funding, Staffordshire County Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The project could also help create a number of new jobs in the town centre.

The Creative Quarter would also help to build on success of projects such as Created In Tamworth, located in the old Information Centre on Market Street, which supports new businesses by providing a town centre location and help with start up and planning.

The incubation units would not only support new businesses and help to create jobs, it would also improve the local economy while rents could be reinvested in other projects.

Councillor Steve Claymore, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said:
“This project would have a major positive impact on our town centre for businesses, visitors and residents.

“It is the ideal location to develop a creative quarter; with the Assembly Rooms at the heart of the project, supported by a restaurant, improved links to the rest of the town and encouraging new and small businesses to operate in the town centre.”

Cllr Claymore emphasised that the project was dependent on external funding, but was confident the bids being made would be successful.

Funding for the project is currently being sought from a number of places, including bids to the Greater Birmingham and Solihull, LEP, which receives government money to spend on local projects to enhance and improve the economy:

  • £2.3 million Heritage Lottery Fund application will be submitted in the summer
  • £400,000 funding from Tamworth Borough Council
  • £120,000 from the private sector to develop a 60-cover restaurant
  • £450,000 to develop the incubation units at the Philip Dix Centre
  • £450,000 to develop the library, improve links with the rest of the town centre and provide landscaping, seating and lighting

Planning applications for the work are likely to be submitted to support the funding applications. However no work would start for 12 to 18 months.

The borough council is also working with the current tenants of both the Philip Dix and the Carnegie Centre to discuss their needs and potential relocation and additional support.