Businesses across Shropshire urged to take advantage of £1 million fund to breathe new life in to redundant buildings

Small businesses and start-ups across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin are being encouraged to apply for a share of a £1million fund that breathes new life in to redundant buildings across the region. 

Since its launch in 2012, the Marches Redundant Building Grant Scheme (RBG), which was extended to include Worcestershire in 2013, has awarded grants in excess of £1.5m.  In Telford & Wrekin a total of 10 projects have been supported with grants totalling over £270,00 and as a result, 81 jobs have, or will be, created and a further 13 have been safeguarded.  In Shropshire, meanwhile, 22 projects have been supported with grants of £662,536.73.  This will result in 120 jobs being created and 18 being safeguarded.

All projects funded by the current scheme need to be completed by June of next year and so applicants are being urged to enquire now in order to meet that timeframe.

The grant scheme was established to give small businesses and start-ups across the region the opportunity to bid for grants that would bring unused buildings back into productive economic use and to date projects have included the conversion of a pig barn to office use; a former solicitors’ office being converted in to a day care nursery; and the transformation of a former hardware store in to a bustling and lively coffee shop and art gallery.

Caroline Cattle, Grants Manager, comments: “The difference that the Redundant Buildings Grant has already made to so many small businesses across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin cannot be underestimated.  Businesses have been enabled to grow and diversify and take advantage of markets that they wouldn’t have been able to enter without the ability themselves to physically grow. 

“All projects receiving grants from the scheme need to be completed by June of next year and so with funds still available we are keen that applicants come forward as soon as possible in order to complete the application process and all renovation works before that deadline.  Many small businesses have already benefited from the scheme and put the funds to really good use – it would be great to see more do likewise, but I’d urge them to act quickly.”

One business to have benefitted from the Redundant Building Grant in Telford & Wrekin was Contour Casings which in 2013 received a grant worth almost £13,000 allowing it to move to larger premises on Stafford Park.  The unit they moved to had lain empty for seven years and so the grant money facilitated essential renovations to be carried out making the building fit for their bespoke needs.  Speaking on receipt of the grant, Leigh Simpson, Managing Director of Contour Casings, said: “The difference the grant will make cannot be under estimated as it has freed up finances that we can now direct on growing the business through the expansion of our workforce.”

A totally different kind of business that has also been enabled to realise growth potential is Rays Farm, the family-friendly farm visitor attraction in Billingsley near Bridgnorth in Shropshire.  A £28,000 grant enabled the business to convert a redundant pole barn in to a new interpretation and show area which opened to the public in April this year.

Julie Nicholls from Rays Farm commented: “Securing the grant has provided a future for Rays Farm and we’re delighted that the enlarged facilities are allowing us to create three new jobs too.”

Chairman of the Marches LEP, Graham Wynn adds: “The Redundant Buildings Grant is a scheme that has proved phenomenally successful and one against which it is clear to see the difference it has made not only to the recipients, but also to those around them – additional childcare places have been provided; capacity has been expanded having a knock on effect to suppliers; and importantly jobs have been created and safeguarded.  Of course, in addition to this buildings which had become neglected and unattractive have been given a new lease of life benefitting everyone around them.”

Capital grant support of between £3,000 and up to £100,000 is available to small businesses and start-ups to transform redundant buildings into a base for their enterprises.  This upper limit was recently increased from £50,000 in recognition of the complexities and scale of some of the applications received.

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