Wednesday, 06 June 2007 18:33

£6m rural business centre for Devon

Written by  Ruralcity Media
ImageA £6 million rural business park aims to help overcome a shortage of available work space for new and expanding businesses in Devon.
The South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA) is investing £3.25m in the Okehampton Opportunity project which will kick-start the transformation of a 26-acre site just outside the town.

An additional £2.25 million grant has been made by the Objective Two European Regional Development Fund. West Devon Borough Council is adding a further £650,000 and will be managing the project.

Some 16 small business starter units will be built on the site during the first phase of the scheme which will also provide new roads and services to open up the rest of the site for further expansion.

Derek Harrison, South West RDA operations consultant for the Devon Area Team, said the project would provide vitally-needed employment space for Okehampton and lead directly to the creation of new jobs.

“We want it to be a beacon project for sustainable design, showing that South West England can deliver ambitious projects to grow its economy while at the same time using the latest technology to protect the future of our unique natural environment."

The new buildings will include the latest green energy systems, with a 6KW wind turbine on site and a roof solar system providing a significant percentage of energy needs. A wood pellet boiler will provide heating.

Steve Humphreys, rural manager of the Objective 2 Programme, said: "For some time west Devon has been highlighting the shortage of available work space for new and expanding businesses.”

He added: “The Objective 2 Programme is pleased to make a significant contribution to this project, which will not only provide a new sustainable Rural Business Centre, but will prepare the site for future development.”

Building materials have been selected for low environmental impact and the building structure and fabric is designed for low energy consumption, incorporating natural ventilation and maximising the use of daylight.

A system to collect rainwater will also be installed to be reused in toilet facilities. The result is that carbon emissions from the units is expected to be about 80 per cent less than using conventional energy sources.

Jayne Hill, chairman of West Devon Borough Council's Environment and Community Committee, said she was confident that the units would attract new businesses and jobs to the area and lift the local economy.

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