UK business centre aims to regenerate Plymouth’s Stonehouse neighbourhood

The Millfields Genesis project is providing support and flexible workspaces for small businesses operating in one of south-west England’s most disadvantaged areas.

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The Genesis Business Enterprise Centre offers a total of 2 128 sq. m. of flexible workspace.  © Millfields Trust The Genesis Business Enterprise Centre offers a total of 2 128 sq. m. of flexible workspace. © Millfields Trust

" “Genesis has raised the profile of the Millfields Trust, Stonehouse, as well as improving the level of business accommodation in the area. The quality and design of the building has captured the interest of the wider community and, most importantly, is in demand from SMEs. Occupation levels are high with many exciting young companies taking space, creating jobs and are bringing benefits to the local shops, cafes and restaurants.” "

Roger Pipe, Chief Executive, Millfields Trust

The Stonehouse neighbourhood in Plymouth is one of south-west England’s most economically disadvantaged areas. To help remedy the situation through economic development and job creation, the EU-funded Millfields Genesis project established the Genesis Business Enterprise Centre. Located in the heart of the Stonehouse neighbourhood, the centre offers small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) high-quality, flexible workspaces – including co-working and hot-desk facilities. The project also provides business advice and support to recently launched businesses and those struggling to take off.

Since the Genesis Centre opened, it has enjoyed a high occupancy level of over 80 % – an important first step in contributing to the regeneration of Plymouth’s Stonehouse neighbourhood. In recognition of this achievement, it was named Building of the Year by the Devon and Cornwall Building Forum (2016), Best Community Building by The Herald (2017), Best New Building in Plymouth by Abercrombie (2016, 2017) and the Best Community Building in the Southwest by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (2016).

Flexible options

The Genesis Business Enterprise Centre offers a total of 2 128 m2 of flexible workspace, including 35 spaces that range in size from 17 to 170 m2. According to the project managers, this range of sizes gives fledgling and new businesses an affordable option to start off, with the flexibility to expand as their business grows. Each space benefits from ample light, air-conditioning and some of the fastest broadband available in the city. In addition, a range of business support measures are available to all tenants, including free legal, accounting and human resource services. The Centre also hosts regular seminars and networking events, as well as community events such as Enterprise Week, Social Enterprise Week and a range of Chamber of Commerce events).

Its location on Union Street, in the heart of the community, gives it good visibility and easy access. Built in accordance with the highest level of environmental standards, the building features an irrigated living wall – a system of vegetated panels fixed to a waterproof backing board has created a beautiful façade requiring minimum resources and maintenance. 

Bringing business and community together

The Genesis Business Enterprise Centre, which is operated by the Millfields Community Economic Development Trust (Millfields Trust), provides a place where business and community come together. Located in the heart of Stonehouse, the Trust is a trading social enterprise working in partnership with the Plymouth City Council, local businesses and the community with the shared goal of regenerating the Stonehouse neighbourhood. The Millfields Genesis project exemplifies how the trust provides a platform to enable SMEs to grow and develop by making use of high-quality, affordable business space for rent on flexible terms.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Millfields ‘Community Economic Development Trust’: Business Enterprise Centre "Genesis"” is GBP 4 776 000 (EUR 5 388 020), with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing GBP 2 497 000 (EUR 2 816 978) through the “Regional Research and Innovation” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

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