The opening date for one of the most hotly anticipated and high-profile building projects currently underway in Gloucestershire has been revealed.
The £6.8 million MX centre has drawn attention as much for its radical modular design as what it will become – a new headquarters for Cheltenham Festivals, the town’s Growth Hub business support team, and a performance, workspace and cafe.
As well as its focus also on the county’s fast growing cyber, tech and digital sectors, and buoyant creative industries, the project will also be a catalyst for regenerating the area around the Grade-I listed St Mary’s Minster, the town centre’s oldest building.
Opening was meant to take place by the end of autumn 2022, with those behind the project blaming the knock-on effects of Covid-19, global supply chain issues, inflation and workforce shortages resulting in the new date now being some time in spring 2023.
Bruce Gregory, director of Workshop Cheltenham, lead developers on a project taking place in partnership with Cheltenham Borough Council and part-funded by GFirst LEP, said: ‘The pushing back of the opening of Minster Exchange is both disappointing and frustrating given its importance in positioning Cheltenham as the epicentre of the UK’s cyber and technology sector alongside initiatives like the Golden Valley Development.’
The radical design of the MX saw the first phase take rapid shape in early 2022 thanks to its modular design. Latter stages will see its constituent 'boxes' clad in timber and internal fit-out take place.
Once completed, the MX will also form part of a wider network of digital tech venues in and around Cheltenham, including Hub8’s cyber-focused workspaces in the town’s Brewery Quarter and at Gloucestershire College’s Cheltenham Campus.
‘Already, there are over 70 companies and 500 individuals registered across the two Hub8 facilities. This in turn has created over 30 cyber-focused apprentice opportunities for local young people, and organisations looking at Gloucestershire as a place to set up their businesses are citing these venues and their communities as a motivating factor,’ said Gregory.