Loan agreed to King’s Lynn Innovation Centre after ‘Brexit’ vote holds up EU grant payments

The King's Lynn Innovation Centre. Picture: Ian Burt

The King's Lynn Innovation Centre. Picture: Ian Burt

Councillors have agreed to lend money to the enterprise partner running a £5m business centre to cover delays in EU funding.

West Norfolk council ploughed £1m into the £5m King's Lynn Innovation Centre (KLIC), on the town's Nar Ouse Way, which officially opened in June.

Now its ruling cabinet has agreed to loan an undisclosed sum to Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services (NWES), which has also put £500,000 into the project and manages the landmark building.

Alistair Beales, the council's deputy leader and cabinet member for regeneration, said NWES had requested the loan to 'mitigate the cash flow implications' of delayed payment of grants from the European Regional Development Fund. Mr Beales said: 'The loan will be secured on the Kings Lynn Innovation Centre building, will outperform the average return of council investments and will be repaid by November 30, 2018.

'Granting this loan will help NWES support and grow the businesses already based at KLIC as well as attract new tenants.' The government put development fund payments on hold days after the country voted to leave the EU in June.

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In a statement, NWES said it did not have a cash flow problem with KLIC. It added: 'The building has been completed, fitted out and operated to a high standard. All partners have contributed exactly what was required to complete the building as per the original projections. This includes a capital injection of £500,000 from NWES.

'KLIC is already 21pc full and occupancy is on profile with many potential tenants in negotiations. The delay in implementing ERDF contracts following Brexit has been a challenge but does not affect the operation of NWES or KLIC at all.'

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West Norfolk council would not disclose the size of the loan. A spokesman said: 'It will be published when the money is spent in the same way as a confidential property acquisition is reported once completed, but not before.'

Built on the site of a former fertiliser factory in South Lynn, KLIC offers offices, as well as meeting and conference facilities for new and growing businesses. It is the flagship building of a new enterprise zone, which it is hoped will stimulate business growth and attract new investment.

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