Rutland County Council has confirmed plans to convert a sixth-form centre into a brand new business centre for Rutland named in honour of former council leader Terry King.
The council has been considering options for the future of the Rutland County College site at Barleythorpe after Casterton College Rutland, which runs the sixth-form centre, announced it would be relocating it to its Great Casterton site in August.
The council’s cabinet has now approved plans to convert the building into a commercial hub, providing facilities for new and existing businesses. It will be named The King Centre in honour of Terry King, who stepped down from the role of council leader and ward member for Exton in January due to ill health. He served as leader for less than a year following the death of his long-standing colleague and friend Roger Begy in February 2016.
Council leader Tony Mathias (Con) said: “The transformation of Barleythorpe college into a business centre offering accommodation for multiple small and medium-sized businesses is a tremendous opportunity. It provides the most viable long-term solution for the site and will do a lot to support our local economy.
“Following the conversion, the site will provide 12,000sqft of additional commercial space for the county, attracting new businesses to the area and helping established companies that have outgrown their current premises.
“In particular, we want to attract start-ups and innovative rural businesses to take up space and expect the site to generate more than £1.4millon over 10 years – money the council can reinvest in other projects and local services.”
The council’s existing business sites are already well-used. The most recent acquisition, the 25 acre Oakham Enterprise Park, is currently fully occupied, while an independent survey commissioned in 2015 concluded that Rutland will need an extra 70 acres of space for commercial development over the next 20 years.
In developing Barleythorpe college, the council plans to build on the success of the enterprise park. Coun King was a driving force behind the acquisition and development of the former Ashwell Prison site.
Coun Mathias added: “OEP is one of the council’s most successful long-term projects. Thanks to the vision and determination of Terry King, what was previously a series of disused cell blocks and prison workshops is now a thriving hub for local businesses that generates significant income for the council. This is exactly the kind of entrepreneurial environment we want to create at Barleythorpe so it’s only fitting the new site should be named The King Centre, recognising the contribution made by Terry throughout his time as ward member for Exton, deputy leader and leader.”
Serviced and un-serviced accommodation will be available at The King Centre, with minimal conversion required to prepare the college’s classrooms, laboratories and offices for business use. The centre will also make use of the building’s large cafe, kitchen and conservatory area. It will also offer virtual office space and hot-desking facilities.
If a planning application is approved, work to convert the site for commercial use would begin after Rutland County College departs in August.
Anyone wishing to register an interest in the new facility should contact the council’s economic development manager on 01572 758 376 for more information.