New headquarters for Cheltenham Festivals set to open in 2024

One of the most exciting developments in Cheltenham — a new headquarters for the company that runs its famous festivals and a key focus of its burgeoning cyber economy ­— is back on track thanks to investment from London and the borough council.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
The Minster Exchange overlooking the grounds of Cheltenham Minster, which have been landscaped in readiness for the project's completion.

The impact of one of the most powerful innovation companies in the UK buying into the Cheltenham cyber-focused Hub8 workspace is becoming apparent, with news that the Minster Exchange (MX) development in the centre of Cheltenham is back on track.

Spiralling inflation has seen the project to build the new headquarters for Cheltenham Festivals and another base for the town's expanding cyber community beside Cheltenham Minster stall and miss its early 2023 opening day.

But with London innovation firm Plexal buying a majority share in Hub8, which has bases at The Brewery Quarter and Gloucestershire College and is already home to numerous cyber-focused businesses, Cheltenham Borough Council felt confident enough to invest a further £700,000 in the new centre.

As a result, a new opening date of early 2024 has been announced and those behind the scheme are confident the multi-million pound project remains a good return on investment for the borough council for the next 25 years-plus.

Andrew Roughan, chief executive of Plexal, which was founded by investment fund DV4 and created the London technology and creative businesses campus Here East, said: ‘The arrival of the MX will mark an important milestone that will continue to place Cheltenham firmly in the heart of the UK’s flourishing cyber industry.

‘A pathway for the Golden Valley Development, the scheme will strengthen the town’s connections to the digital and cyber tech community by providing an urban space for people of all ages to meet, work and enjoy creative arts.

‘In Gloucestershire we have six times the national average number of cyber businesses, placing us at the forefront of the UK's cyber security industry. The MX will play a huge part to help expand the cyber ecosystem, encouraging growth in the tech, cyber and creative sectors, providing a space for businesses and the community to prosper and thrive.’

An artist's impression of what the MX centre will look like when complete. 

Plexal already delivers projects for key government departments and global tech firms, including the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Amazon Web Services and IBM.

Bruce Gregory, managing director of Hub8 and of Workshop Cheltenham Ltd (WSC Ltd), which is behind the MX project, said: ‘I’m pleased to report that with a new construction team in place, the building works are ramping up with the installation of the parapet and roof capping details.

'Preparation works are also almost complete, ready for the installation of the external cladding which will start in July.

'We would like to provide our sincere thanks to Cheltenham Borough Council for their investment to complete the project, GFirst LEP and the government’s Build Back Better Fund for their support with this important scheme, which will soon start to bring noticeable benefits to our town.'

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