Crown Buildings on Eastbank Street in Southport
By Andrew Brown
Southport is swapping its buckets and spades for laptops – and the changes couldn’t be more welcome.
Our town has a long and proud history as one of the UK’s premier seaside resorts.
Visitors have known what to expect – a beautiful seaside, good times at the fairground, excellent parks, memorable times browsing shops, eating in restaurants and enjoying the great nightlife.
Around 6,500 jobs in Southport are directly dependent on tourism.
There are plans to radically expand this offer. Southport Pleasureland has very exciting plans to transform the park. In the past few months alone, they have secured planning permission for a giant new observation wheel, a new rollercoaster, a new Viking adventure golf course and eatery, and a new Miniature Railway Station Terminal, cafe and coffee shop. There is much more being planned.
Southport Cove will bring a world class surf resort to town soon. A £75m Marine Lake Events Centre and a light show in the lake is at the planning stage. And there are exciting proposals to create new hotel, shopping and leisure space through the Waterfront development.
In the Digital, Creative and Tech sector, Southport is also changing its image, as it looks to the future.
For remote or freelance workers and start-up companies at the moment, the choices of where to work are limited, aside from the many great coffee shops in town.
So there was much excitement when, earlier this month, Sefton Council revealed the first artist’s impression and details of the new £1.5million Enterprise Arcade on Eastbank Street – one of the main new developments secured as part of the £38.5million Town Deal funding from the Government.
Our town’s first ever purpose-built workspace for start-up businesses will be situated in Crown Buildings on Eastbank Street in Southport town centre, and will provide a high tech, collaborative and affordable workspace for small businesses.
Just around the corner, on Corporation Street, IT specialist Techedia is busy creating its new HQ, creating 75 new jobs in a £1million project.
On nearby Coronation Walk, Fallen Planet Studios, an independent development studio, is building on its reputation of creating immersive games and experiences for Virtual Reality (VR).
On the corner of King Street and Market Street stands the new-look Southport Market, which has been transformed into a new food, drink and events venue, which is already becoming a catalyst for bringing new independent, local businesses into the growing Market Quarter.
Southport is modernising fast; attracting new investment, new businesses and a flourishing new digital sector.
The change is partly being fuelled by Southport Town Deal funding, and driven by Southport BID, which is determined to see the creation of more skilled, high tech jobs and opportunities to meet the needs of talented youngsters graduating from KGV Sixth Form College and Southport College.
It is also being driven by the changes which we have all experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
More and more people are either working from home or working remotely. We have all discovered Zoom and Teams instead of formal meetings. The commuting slog through heavy traffic and past roadcones is no longer so attractive. New start-up companies are fast realising that big cities are not the be-all and end-all.
Quality of the environment is increasingly important. Beautiful, elegant seaside towns such as Southport, with its fresh air, beautiful scenery and views and all it has to offer, is becoming a great place to invest.
Mark Cunningham, Director of Anthony James Estate Agents, said: “Investors are now increasingly investing in Southport, and it is well worth doing so.
“With the amount the Government is putting in Southport through the Town Deal – £38.5million – that size of investment is going to make a big splash, which is going to create many ripples. That was a tremendous deal for Southport.
“When people see the developments taking place as a result of that funding, such as the new Southport Market, the Enterprise Arcade and the new Marine Lake Events Centre, it is going to attract a lot of private investment.”
Local people have welcomed news of the new Enterprise Arcade in the town centre.
Speaking in the Stand Up For Southport Facebook group, Simon Shrouder said: “This is a really excellent initiative – it would be great if it gives birth to some world leading innovative business ideas and local ones that help secure the town’s future.”
The Enterprise Arcade project will utilise upper floors which were previously occupied by Sefton Council, along with The Gallary cafe bar and grill and the former Friend Mobile shop on the ground floor.
Key objectives of the project include:
- Support the diversification of the local economy
- Deliver refurbished floorspace to create a business incubator and meet the needs of new and growing businesses through flexible, experiential workspaces
- Support new business starts and encourage entrepreneurship
- Support business and provide the right space for them to expand
- Act as a hub for businesses and innovation in Southport
In his report to Cabinet, Sefton Council Executive Director (Place) Stephen Watson said: “In a break away from traditional office space and embracing the move towards flexible and hybrid working The Enterprise Arcade will be a ‘Place for Pioneers’, playing a part in Sefton’s and the City Region’s Economic Recovery Plan.”
Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said: “Nationally we are seeing a move away from traditional working environments and more and more people are embracing flexible and hybrid work opportunities.
“Our Enterprise Arcade will be the ideal location for a whole host of start-up and growing businesses and individuals, whether they be in the early incubator stages of developing their brand or simply in need of flexibility and an agile approach to their working practices.”
Southport is embracing its growing Digital, Creative and Tech sector.
As one of the nicest places to live and work in the UK, it is a sector which is only going to get bigger.
Get all the latest news, updates, things to do and more from Southport, Merseyside’s dedicated InYourArea feed.