Cheltenham Open for Business
Cheltenham is recalibrating to become a destination for tech business, innovation and leisure.
The beautiful Regency town of Cheltenham has a thriving legacy as a great visitor destination with its vibrant retail offering, great bars & eateries and an impressive portfolio of world-renowned festivals and racecourse. The town established itself as a popular tourist attraction in the 18th Century after the medicinal waters were discovered with visitors flocking to the iconic pump rooms in Pittville and Montpellier.
Cheltenham can boast to be one of the most complete Regency town in the country and has that rare advantage where traditional and contemporary architecture sit comfortably together. Whilst the visitor economy has flourished with an estimated 7,500 people working in the arts, entertainment & hospitality industry and the visitor economy estimated to be worth £172 million in 2019, recent events have motivated the town’s aspiration to become much more than a great place to live, work and visit.
Innovation is in the town’s blood, it being home to GE Aviation, Spirax Sarco, GCHQ & the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and now is one of the largest cyber hubs in the country with many successful start-ups spinning out of the GCHQ/NCSC dynamic. This solid platform enables Cheltenham to market itself as being one of the most forward thinking and innovative towns in the country.
Cheltenham has ambitious plans; Cheltenham Borough Council’s Golden Valley Development is aiming to secure it as the nation’s hub for cyber and digital innovation and there is now an entire ecosystem of innovative developments and projects orbiting around the town to make this plan a reality.
The town’s vision is now to be a vibrant, mixed use hub with many motivators to get not just visitors and locals but serious business in the town. A key focus is to draw in a larger younger demographic through providing high quality education, a buoyant and innovative job market and a great place to be.
The new digitally themed developments such as Hub 8, the Minster Exchange project and the Hub 8 GC at Gloucestershire College will create brilliant business incubators and tech communities. Hub 8, delivered in partnership with CyNam is located in the Brewery Quarter and has over 7,000sqft of innovative co-working space. It will be dedicated to enabling growth and development of the town’s flourishing cyber tech eco system. Hub 8 has proved extremely popular and is currently at full capacity.
Hub 8 GC located at the college’s Cheltenham campus, waving distance from GCHQ, has a mission to bring together the best in-class cyber & digital Start-ups; SMEs and global companies.
The Minster Exchange, part funded by GFirst LEP through the Getting Building Fund, is another project that is being driven by Cheltenham Borough Council and is due for completion in March 2022. This low carbon modular construction project is a major component of reshaping the underutilised Minster Quarter linking up to the High Street and thus opening out the centre. The development will include a 2,000 sq. ft innovation & performance space, Cheltenham’s very own Growth Hub, Head Quarters for Cheltenham Festivals and provide a dynamic café and community culture.
Education provision is a key component of bringing this vision to life and GlosCol and University of Gloucestershire’s new cyber suites will provide much needed learning infrastructure for upcoming talent. Glos Col’s ‘Grow your own talent’ project and the new Advanced Digital Academy provides specialist apprenticeships in IT and Cyber and will focus on attracting a diverse range of students particularly from lower socio-economic backgrounds. The university now offers cyber and digital undergrad and postgrad courses.
Plans for Cheltenham as a cyber and tech hub are cemented but there are many projects and priorities happening outside of this. With the current challenges around breathing life back into the high street, the Borough Council’s Economic Recovery Task Force has recently published a new document framing the council’s strategy on new planning flexibilities and change of use opportunities for potential developers; ‘Cheltenham Open for Business’. This aims to mobilise creative development ideas for empty or redundant retail space in the town centre.
The Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID) has also received positive endorsement by a vote to continue into its second term to March 2026. The BID will continue to deliver economically beneficial projects for local businesses with many initiatives planned in the pipeline.
Cheltenham centre has also seen the completion of the impressive Quadrangle redevelopment. The iconic building has undergone a multimillion-pound refurbishment. Sitting neatly on the corner of Imperial Square and the Promenade, the building offers four floors of premium work space, a rooftop restaurant with fantastic views across Montpellier and ground floor retail and café space. Space is still currently available but the first tenant, award-winning digital solutions and services provider, iPipeline has been announced to take the second floor. The Iconic building Eagle Tower is also marketing available office space, ‘the perfect new home for your business’.
Even in challenging times, the town’s future planning and innovative vision is a bold and positive step towards economic and social vibrancy. The mixed-use approach will create an exciting thoroughfare and hopefully drive further inward investment and new employment opportunities. And let’s not forget the town already has some serious creative global players born of out Cheltenham such as Superdry and SLG Brands to provide that inventive dynamic which is always important when creating a vibrant hub.
Cheltenham’s bid to be the nations home of cybertech and innovation is well on its way.
We’re Moving to Cheltenham is a new inward investment and business growth initiative for the town. It is managed by Marketing Cheltenham on behalf of Cheltenham Borough Council and forms part of the town’s Economic Recovery.
The GFirst LEP Inward Investment team is an ERDF funded project who work in partnership with Cheltenham and aims to facilitate investment, innovation and growth to the region, find out more here
- Spotlight Story
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