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Historic Business Centre opens its doors to creative companies

14 January 2009
Historic business centre - joiner shop
Lee Amor, SEEDA Director of  Enabling Infrastructure and Development, opens the Joiners Shop with (l-r) Tim Seed, Director of Cardy Construction, Joiners Shop Manager Allison Sweeney and Bill Ferris, Chief Executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust .
Photo credit: Steve Rowe, 2009.
Historic business centre - joiner shop2
Historic business centre - joiner shop3
Refurbished work areas in the new Joiners Shop Centre for Creative Business.
Photo credit: Steve Rowe, 2009.

Dozens of businesses in the creative industries will soon be making the Historic Dockyard Chatham their home, after the official re-opening on the 14 January of the 200 year-old Joiners Shop building as a specialist Centre for Creative Business. SEEDA, the South East England Development Agency, has funded the refurbishment at a cost of just under £3.5m, including sourcing £1m of funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The Grade-II listed Joiners’ Shop was built in the late 18th Century to help supply Admiral Nelson’s Royal Navy, whose ships were constructed in the nearby Chatham dockyards. It has since witnessed the decline of the surrounding area after the last ships left the dock in 1984, and the recovery that has followed under the stewardship of the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, SEEDA and the local council. This important restoration work means The Joiners Shop can play a role in this revival, re-emerging as a vital home for modern creative industries as part of the wider continued regeneration of Chatham Maritime.

The creative industry accounts for just 3.5% of total employment in the Medway compared to 13% in the South East as a whole, yet with the University for the Creative Arts and University of Kent situated nearby, as well as The Smithery museum and exhibition space set to open next door, there is a clear opportunity for growth. The Joiners Shop Centre for Creative Business will take advantage of this, providing 1000sq.m of office and workshop space for up to 44 small and starter businesses, particularly those in the Arts, Crafts and Design sectors.

Jonathan Shaw MP, Minister for the South East and MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said:

"I am particularly pleased that this development is helping to revitalise and regenerate Chatham - an area which as local MP, I take a close interest in. The importance of projects such as this one cannot be overestimated in the way that they revitalise skills that would otherwise be lost to future generations."

Lee Amor, SEEDA’s Executive Director for Infrastructure & Development, added:

"The Joiners Shop is a wonderful opportunity to encourage and support creative businesses in these uncertain economic times, and is yet another positive step in the regeneration of Chatham as a whole. With projects such as this we are putting the right infrastructure in place to allow businesses to take full advantage of the UK’s inevitable economic recovery, stimulating once-neglected sectors of the economy that will be vital to the region’s future."

Companies already signed up for spaces within the centre include Liquid Blue Designs, a new partnership of three designers who use laser technology to engrave acrylic products, Andrew Purchase, who restores and re-uses antique furniture, and graphic design company ANT.

Bill Ferris, Chief Executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, concluded:

"The Historic Dockyard is already home to a thriving community of creative businesses and is a cultural hub within Medway. The Joiners’ Shop project, with its specific purpose of creating an enabling environment for small and mainly new creative businesses of all kinds, adds an exciting new dimension. Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust is delighted to be working in partnership with SEEDA, CLG and Medway Council to provide this fantastic facility."

The development was project managed by Basepoint Developments Ltd with Baynes and Mitchell as the architects. Basepoint is managing the centre on behalf of the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust. Local contractors Cardy Construction Ltd completed work in December on time and within budget.

Any accommodation related queries should be directed to:

Allison Sweeney, Manager of The Joiners Shop
Tel: 01634 816000
Email: allisonsweeney@basepoint.co.uk or visit their website.

For media enquiries, please contact:

James Fulker, Press Officer
Tel: 01483 470 155
Email: pressoffice@seeda.co.uk

For more information please contact our press office

Tel: 01483 470155