Companies given month to move out of specialist St Neots building

The Creativexchange building in St Neots

The Creativexchange building in St Neots - Credit: Archant

Companies occupying a building designed to offer specialist facilities for new firms to promote enterprise and create jobs have been given a month to move out.

Creativexchange, based in the grounds of Longsands Academy, opened in 2008 and was owned by Huntingdonshire District Council.

At the time it was said to be somewhere with a “supportive working environment”, that would “attract, retain and promote creative businesses”.

But yesterday (Tuesday), HDC announced it had surrendered its lease and the premises were being transferred to the academy which, in turn, revealed it planned to use it as a sixth-form centre with a coffee machine.

Councillor Jonathan Gray, executive councillor for resources, said: “Following a review of this asset, the council has determined, working in partnership with the academy, that the best future use for the building will be educational, and this proposal will help to enhance educational provision in St Neots.”

Rick Carroll, headteacher of Longsands, said the school had been at capacity for a number of years and accommodation had been stretched.

“One particular area that we have need to enhance provision for is our sixth form.

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“Therefore, I am delighted to announce that this iconic building will be the new sixth form centre.”

He said he expected it would become home to a canteen with a coffee machine, as well as an ICT suite with Wi-Fi access and offices for teachers.

The premises had been managed on behalf of HDC by Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services Ltd (NWES), ­specialists in helping people to turn ­business ideas into reality. Its contract ended in October but NWES had ­continued to manage the centre until HDC decided what it was going to do.

NWES director John Balch said he was pleased with what had been achieved at St Neots but disappointed they were not able to continue.

“The size of the project was such that it was difficult to grow it because we were restricted by the size of the building and the location within the college,” he said.

“But we had a significant number of successes and a number of successful companies were established. We had managed to establish a culture of enterprise.

“We will finish our tenure at the end of April and it will be down to the council to deal with any handover or transition.”

Existing tenants, about 10 firms, were told yesterday they had until the end of April before they had to move out.

An HDC spokesman said: “Tenants have been informed of developments and given notice. The council will discuss any future concerns with them.”