Plan to support new businesses in Eye
Councillors on Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet this week agreed to progress plans to breathe new life into a derelict building in Eye town centre – with the aim of transforming it into a supportive space for fledgling businesses.
The building, next door to the new library in Cross Street, is currently owned by Suffolk County Council, and has been empty for over a decade. But Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet today gave the green light for plans to be drawn up for its possible transformation into flexible space to support local business start-ups – plus office space for Eye Town Council close to the Town Hall.
The proposals would see ownership of the building transfer from Suffolk County Council to Mid Suffolk District Council. Then, subject to planning permission, Mid Suffolk District Council would fund the refurbishment work, as part of the wider ‘Invest in Eye’ programme. Working with Eye Town Council and other local stakeholders to improve quality of life for residents in line with the Eye Neighbourhood Plan, boosting business and regenerating the town centre.
The project will cost £330,000, with £195,000 coming from Mid Suffolk District Council, £90,000 of Government energy efficiency funding through Salix and £45,000 from the Suffolk Growth Partnership.
Cllr Peter Gould, Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet member for assets and investments, said:
“This investment allows us to transform a vacant and rundown building in the town centre providing an innovative solution to accommodate local businesses that need flexible space and support to grow, as well as meeting Eye Town Council’s requirements. We now look forward to progressing these plans, in partnership with the Town Council and local commerce.”
The development would also form part of the council’s wider Innovate Local initiative, creating working spaces for local businesses and start-ups to grow and develop.
Cllr Gerard Brewster, Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet member for economic growth, said:
“We know businesses benefit from being in a collaborative space where they can network and nurture new ideas and receive the support they need in order to grow – but space like this is rare and costs high, particularly for new ventures. By stepping in and providing this support, we can help local businesses to thrive, provide job opportunities, and support the local economy in recovery from the impact of the Covid pandemic.”
Cllr Johnnie Walker, Mayor of Eye, said:
“The town council is delighted to have played a role in bringing this derelict building in the town centre into a new and purposeful use. The building will provide easily accessible accommodation for the council.”
Discussions will now continue with the Invest in Eye board and Eye Town Council ahead of plans being submitted as part of the formal planning process later this summer. The plans are expected to include a number of environmental measures to support Mid Suffolk District Council’s carbon reduction aims – including using renewable energy to heat the building, and the inclusion of electric car and bike charging points, powered by on-site photovoltaic canopies.