£8m enterprise centre at Wharf Park in Raunds approved

Plans for a new £8m enterprise centre in Raunds have been approved.

Monday, 14th January 2019, 1:17 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 6:32 pm
East Northamptonshire council is behind the plans for the enterprise centre.

Work will begin this year on the centre at Wharf Park.

East Northants Council will spend £5m of its reserves to build the centre off the A45 and borrow £3m to pay for the rest of the costs.

Approving the new venture at the planning meeting last Wednesday (Jan 9) Cllr Peter Wathen said the authority’s officers had conducted a needs survey and had found an enterprise centre was viable.

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He said: “It is something we do need in the district.”

There will be a 60m long and 10m high three-storey flat roof building for office rental units and an adjacent L-shape single-storey building for the start-up business units.

Paul Garcia, who runs a rival enterprise centre three miles away in Irthlingborough, spoke out against the objection saying there was not enough local demand.

He said: “I’m going to object due to the lack of business planning. There is just not the need.

“It is a very bad idea and I think it is another excuse for the poor old taxpayer to pay for another project that can’t succeed.”

Mr Garcia said many of his units are vacant.

The enterprise centre site was originally earmarked as a hotel.

Cllr Gill Mercer said: “Raunds Town Council have picked up on the fact that the site was going to be for a hotel.

“It is disappointing that the south of the district does not get a hotel. I have nothing against this building and hope we do find occupiers for it but we really do need a hotel at some point.”

Wharf Park attracted renewed attention last year as it is the site of an ancient henge. Archaeologists working on the site unearthed a 4,000-year-old henge that is 100m in diameter. Historic England says the historical feature has been known about since the 1980s.