The Executive Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure and the Executive Director for Growth and Place submitted a report that set out the long-term vision to enable the continued growth of Middlesbroughs digital cluster. The bold and collaborative vision, articulated a spatial strategy that built on the benefits of cluster colocation in a consolidated estate, and enabled the delivery of short term capacity for the cluster, along with an opportunity to provide certainty on the long term development aspirations.
Building on the ever-strengthening 'Boho Zone' brand, the outlined approach planned to enable digital businesses to commit to a shared vision for Middlesbroughs cluster and provided a phased development pipeline which planned to capture inward investment interest for the next 10 to 15 years.
In growing and retaining the Digital Cluster in Middlesbrough, it was critical to ensure that the accommodation pipeline had the ability to respond to demand in a timely manner.
The project represented Middlesbrough Council investing C. £20m, secured in support of the achievement of the objectives of the Tees Valley Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), to deliver the initial phases of the concept masterplan to create a 'Digital Campus' in Middlesbroughs Boho Zone.
The submitted report contained detailed information in respect of:
concept masterplan/campus design
indicative design costs
The architect was in attendance at the meeting and presented the plans to develop a concept design for Boho Next Generation.
Other potential decisions and why those had not been recommended
Do Nothing: In terms of occupancy, Boho 1 stood at 100% capacity and Boho 5 at 87% there was limited space suitable for the growing Middlesbrough digital cluster.
A strong sector pipeline had been established with Teesside University to ensure incubator companies set up in the Victoria building following their graduation from the business school had an automatic route into Boho 5.
Utilising existing commercial space: Whilst the digital technology companies preferred to be in a space that was solely digital, there were other business centres that could have accommodated their needs locally and within the reach of the acknowledged cluster. That option had to remain part of the solution and provided a credible alternative for short term demands.
Alternative Areas - Centre Square development was considered to be a credible option for some of the larger businesses and as a proposition to attract new inward investment to the cluster. That would have also formed part of the packaged offer for local businesses.
Develop a Business Case for Sector-specific Space (Boho Next Generation): A clear option for the cluster was a bespoke solution that built on the strength of the local estate and laid the foundations for rapid, affordable and localised growth of the sector. A key consideration for the tenants was a clear understanding of deliverability and certain timescales for implementation. The option was considered very credible to address the medium to long term requirement.
That the vision for the Boho Zone, the concept options for Boho Next Generation workspace (Appendices B1 to B3 and C1 to C5) and the approach taken to retain growing businesses in the city centre ecosystem, be supported.
That the progression of Phases 1A and 1B, the creation of modular business space (1A) and the development of Boho 10 (1B) as outlined in appendices B1 and B2 and funded through £20m TVCA contribution, be approved.
That the provisional allocation of land at Middlehaven, in support of developing future phases related to Middlesbroughs Digital Cluster and creating a coherent 'campus' feel for the area / strengthening the identity of the Boho Zone, be noted.
That the acquisition of a small area of Thirteen Group land, to enable the first phases of development and the transfer of similar land (of an equivalent value) in the local area, in lieu of a receipt, be approved.
That the proposal for the Boho Village housing into the vision for the area, which could have been brought forward subject to demand and an approved development brief, be noted
The Boho Next Generation Vision supported Middlesbrough Councils strategic outcomes and formed an integral part of Middlesbroughs investment priorities as outlined in the 2017 Middlesbrough Investment Prospectus.
The initial options appraisal had highlighted significant demand for commercial accommodation to satisfy immediate and long term expansion plans, starter style units as well as larger floor plate options.
Consultation with key Boho based digital sector companies had been undertaken as part of the initial options appraisal.