First look: The Minster Exchange in Cheltenham

Set to open in May 2024, Cheltenham's new communal workspace and tech hub, the Minster Exchange, is bursting with potential — and SoGlos got a first look at the site that will soon house a brand-new Growth Hub, event space and more...

By Kaleigh Pritchard  |  Published
Join SoGlos for a first look inside the nearly completed Minster Exchange in Cheltenham, which is set to open in May 2024.

With the Minster Exchange finally set to open this May 2024, SoGlos got a sneak peek inside the building which is set to become home to a brand-new Growth Hub, event venue and offices.

Currently in its final stages of construction, the multi-million-pound project — which is also referred to as The MX Innovation Centre — is set to open its doors in just over a month's time, offering businesses across Gloucestershire workspaces, growth opportunities, a sizeable event space and a cafe, with the aim of expanding Cheltenham's job market and economy.

Its exterior of white shipping containers hides what promises to be an impressive interior. On the ground floor, visitors are met with a lobby area and a cafe to the left, that will be open to everyone including members of the public.

To the right is the home of Cheltenham's new Growth Hub — one of six hubs dedicated to coaching and developing businesses across Gloucestershire — which will offer advice services, mentorship and resources to small businesses and entrepreneurs. 

Currently based at The Brewery Quarter's Hub8 by Plexal, the new hub will provide a full-time space for the day-to-day activities that take place at its current facilities.

Completing the ground floor is MX's standout space — a 250-capacity event venue with a striking lattice of wooden beams across its ceiling, exposed piping and wooden panelling on the walls, giving it a modern and industrial feel.

Managing director at Hub8 by Plexal, Bruce Gregory, said: 'We've got an amazing heritage of delivering world class events in the town and we all see what happens four weeks of the year where Cheltenham Festivals roll out some incredible events here.

'But this is a permanent venue that will be able to support a programme of events throughout the year, most importantly aiming to attract and retain young talent in Cheltenham — the event space will play a vital role in this.'

MX's second and third floors contain office spaces, a boardroom, a kitchen and phone booths that will provide soundproof areas for virtual calls and meetings, with the top two floors overlooking the iconic church that sits just opposite.

Continuing Cheltenham Borough Council's aim to achieve net zero, the entire building will be run on electricity only, with no gas connections. It will also use a variety of energy-saving mechanisms, such as compressors which take heat from the air, people and computers in the room and recycle it. 

Head of construction, major developments and regeneration at Cheltenham Borough Council, Richard King, explained: 'From these compressors outside, every 200 watts that go into them, we get about two kilowatts out. So comparing that to a gas boiler, for every kilowatt that goes in, you probably only get around 900 watts out. We're actually getting more out of these units than we put in.'

Gearing up for its launch in May, the MX has opened applications for its Grown in Cheltenham business programme, giving Cheltenham-based founders the opportunity to fast-track their companies with six months of free, tailored business support.

Successful applicants will receive expert help from Plexal's innovation team, which works with government departments, enterprises and exciting start-ups in the UK. 

Bruce added: 'Plexal’s ultimate ambition is to create economic and social prosperity for communities through innovation.

'Now in 2024, we’re fast approaching the tangible realisation of this vision, with the MX Innovation Centre forming part of a broader goal to secure our future as Cheltenham looks forward to growing the technology ecosystem alongside the Golden Valley Development.'

Businesses interested in applying for the programme should contact Hub8 directly.

More on The Minster Exchange

More from Business