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Dormant office space at Norwich’s Dragonfly House to become SME support hub

PUBLISHED: 06:00 06 June 2014

St James Place / Dragonfly House on the bank of the River Wensum in Norwich

Picture: James Bass
Copy: 
For: EDP News
Eastern Daily Press © 2009  (01603) 772434

St James Place / Dragonfly House on the bank of the River Wensum in Norwich Picture: James Bass Copy: For: EDP News Eastern Daily Press © 2009 (01603) 772434

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

Part of a Norwich building that lay dormant following public sector cuts is to be transformed into a hub for fledgling businesses.

The second floor of Dragonfly House – near Barrack Street – has been taken over by Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services to create a support centre for up to 10 early stage companies.

The project is a joint partnership with the government who agreed an 18-month lease with NWES as part of its Space for Growth programme – an initiative to make use of empty government building by renting space to start ups, SMES, charities and social enterprises.

The 10,000 sq ft floor was previously used by the Broads Authority and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

John Balch, head of property of NWES, hopes the new site will attract firms from the professional services sector as the building is located next door to Grant Thornton and Birketts.

“This scheme is part of a property programme which is designed to take advantage of government assets,” he said.

“The government is a massive property owner, but as a result of the recession its requirements have changed.

“Before they would have just kept hold of these buildings and they would have been empty and not properly utilised.

“But they have now come up with the idea of businesses using these spaces.”

“Our job is to encourage enterprise, that is why we exist,” he added. “We want to start businesses as fast as we can and this property is part of our offer. 
“We are hoping that people will come in, take advantage of our offer of business support before eventually relocating to somewhere else in Norwich.”

Entrepreneurs were invited to an event held at Dragonfly House yesterday to see the space and learn more about NWES’ services.

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, who delivered a speech at the event, said it was right that the government took the “practical” approach when finding the best use for government assets.

“This is great for Norwich and it is super to be able to see the government doing a practical thing to support businesses. I am delighted to have played my part in this scheme when I was a minister in the cabinet office. Everyone from the Prime Minister downwards wants to see Space for Growth succeed.”

NWES has 61 properties on its books across the East of England and more than 400 tenants.

The organisation announced earlier this year that it would create four new enterprise centres, including a £4m start-hub in King’s Lynn.

• Do you have a business story for the Eastern Daily Press? Contact business writer Ben Woods on 01603 772426 or email ben.woods@archant.co.uk.

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