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Plans for business hub at Gateway 14 in Stowmarket costing over £18m take step forward

A massive business centre costing over £18m has taken a step forward.

Located in the heart of Stowmarket’s Gateway 14 business park, Mid Suffolk’s cabinet agreed this morning to approve the full business case for the delivery of a new Skills and Innovation Centre.

This morning’s approval will see several details of the £18.75m building being nailed down ahead of the next full council meeting, on January 25.

An artist's impression of the proposed business hub. Credit: Mid Suffolk District Council
An artist's impression of the proposed business hub. Credit: Mid Suffolk District Council

The project is a cross-party legacy effort which the new administration inherited from its predecessor.

The 3,251sqm centre will be a partnership between the council and Freeport East, the region’s special investment area where tax and customs incentives exist in a bid to promote new jobs and innovation.

Cllr Richard Winch said: “We want to try and bring in a lot more innovative companies — it’s absolutely critical for shaping the future of Gateway 14.”

With council research showing a big gap in skills within Suffolk, councillors believe the project’s skills development service, provided in partnership with local universities, will address the issue.

The service will focus primarily on the council’s vision for green skills, including sustainable procurement and carbon literacy.

Cllr Winch added: “We’re hoping that, by creating a dynamic hub, a fun place to be, with lots of funky companies, that we can get people involved in developing skills.

“We want to stop people moving out of the area because they feel there aren’t the right kind of jobs here.”

The facility is also envisioned to offer business support services and become a hub for entrepreneurship, collaboration, and innovation between occupiers in the building.

The project’s delivery bill, however, will come at no extra cost to residents, Cllr Winch explains, with funding coming partly from already earmarked business rates and Freeport seed capital — early-stage money from investors.

Although details regarding the seed capital have not yet been agreed with Freeport East, Cllr Winch expects more information to be available when the project is next discussed.

In the meantime, a reserved matters application outlining some of the building’s features is expected to be considered in the summer of next year, followed by a contractor procurement stage, finally resulting in the first businesses moving in by May 2026.