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30 December 2002

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Innovation and development targets revealed to city leaders



Plans for further development of the Hampton township and for construction of an innovation centre in Peterborough were revealed to more than 100 business and civic leaders at a presentation organised by Greater Peterborough Investment Agency (GPIA).

Meeting over breakfast in the rotunda at Hampton's Serpentine Green shopping centre, the GPIA's business partners, city councillors and public sector executives were reminded that less than a decade ago the building did not exist and the whole Hampton site was derelict.

Roger Tallowin of Hampton (Peterborough) Limited and Paul Farrow of property agent Dickens Watts & Dade gave a summary of current development progress - including the fact that almost 700 homes have now been occupied, hundreds more are being built and a range of business premises are currently under construction or planned. By the time it is finished Hampton will have a population of more than 13,000 people living in 5,200 homes and will employ around 12,000 people in a wide range of occupations.

Some of that employment may be in Peterborough's new innovation centre, said John Durance of the innovation centre steering group, if it is built at Hampton. The steering group is currently investigating several potential sites for the centre and is in discussions with both public and private sector lenders.

Even if the centre itself is not located at Hampton there will be benefits for the township, Mr Durance pointed out.

"The innovation centre will provide a seedbed for growing companies," Mr Durance said. "It has been demonstrated that young businesses which start in innovation centres grow faster than those which do not. And when they grow out of the innovation centre, they will need to move into new premises such as those currently being planned for Hampton."

The innovation centre is planned to provide premises for between 60 and 70 small firms directly employing more than 250 people in total. Additional jobs will be created in service and support businesses.

Mr Durance said: "The creation of an innovation centre will be very important in generating inward investment. Hopefully it will attract back to Peterborough some of the many talented young people who grow up here, leave to gain a university education elsewhere, and then never come back. We want them to return and set up their businesses here."

The centre will provide business units ranging in size from 250 square feet to 1,700 square feet (23 to 160 square metres) together with shared meeting rooms, a restaurant, reception and post and photocopying facilities. It will permit fast-growing companies to move to larger premises without being burdened with complicated long-term lease agreements.

Although businesses from any sector will be eligible to take space at the centre, the intention is to focus on companies developing environmentally sustainable technologies.

The steering group - jointly funded by Peterborough City Council, HSBC and the former Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, Training and Enterprise - has applied for grants from local, regional, national and European bodies to fund the construction. Public sector funding is essential to finance the early years of the project, Mr Durance told the meeting, but the innovation centre's business plan predicts that it will be self-sustaining within four years.

January 2002

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