Construction has officially started on a ground breaking £6.25 million Digital Working Hub in Colchester, paving the way for significant regeneration in the city centre in 2024.
On Monday, 8 January, representatives from Colchester City Council, We Are Colchester, Colchester’s Business Improvement District, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, Colchester Amphora Trading Ltd, came together in a ground breaking ceremony at 43 Queen Street to signify the beginning of the construction. Along with our design architects Inkpen Downie and the appointed main contractor Horizon Construction Group.
The 1,200m2 four-storey building is being designed with bespoke architecture, breathing new life into Colchester’s heritage by replicating the aesthetic of the early 1900s Theatre Royal, which was demolished for the former bus garage. Once completed, it will serve as a collaborative space for digital artists, entrepreneurs, and tech creatives in the area.
The £6.25m project should be completed by early-2025 and has been made possible through investments from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, government grants, and the budgets of Colchester City Council.
Cllr David King, Leader of Colchester City Council, welcomed the development at 43 Queen Street: “This is great news, the result of years of planning, go ahead will mark the beginning of further and significant regeneration for our city centre. We have much more to come, with our Team Colchester partners, Essex County Council. Providing yet another contribution to our city as a remarkable place for creative and digital technologies, and as a great place to live, work or visit.”
Simon Blaxill, Chair of We Are Colchester, highlighted the importance of the digital sector, adding: “Colchester’s creative sector employs over 4,000 people, with a significant portion in the digital field. This sector is experiencing rapid growth, and we are committed to fostering an environment that attracts investment and nurtures its development.
“The recently opened ACL Digital Hub has already been instrumental in helping the next generation of learners acquire digital skills. Colchester has also utilised grant funding for 5G infrastructure, an advantage that many other city centres do not possess. Colchester has some exciting digital projects on the horizon, and we, Team Colchester, and partners cannot wait to share them with you.”
Richard Carr, Managing Director of Colchester Amphora Trading Ltd expressed his gratitude, saying: “This marks another noteworthy milestone in the ongoing development of Colchester, delivered by Colchester Amphora Trading on behalf of the City Council. The Digital Working Hub will be a transformative addition to our city centre, and I eagerly await the grand opening scheduled for next year.”
Helen Russell, Chief Executive of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It was great to be on the ground to mark construction of this much-needed, creative business grow-on project getting underway. The South East LEP has long recognised the value of digital and creative economy to our area. It is exciting to see the transformation at this site from a bus garage into an attractive, cutting-edge workspace, which will support businesses in the creative sector to move beyond the start-up stage to scale-up and mature, while simultaneously freeing up incubation space for new businesses. We look forward to its launch in 2025.”
The funding for these projects includes £19.6 million from Levelling Up and £2.5m from Section 106, as well as £19.2 million from the Town Deal. Together, the funding will contribute to regenerating Saint Nicholas Square, Balkerne Gate, improve cycling infrastructure, bring heritage assets back into public use, and much more for Colchester’s city centre.