Harborough District Council offers “flexibility” to Innovation Centre occupants

Harborough District Council has said it will offer “more time and flexibility to long-stay occupants of the Innovation Centre to ensure they can relocate to suitable office space.”

The Innovation Centre provides office space and support for fledgling businesses in their early years to help them become established, grow sustainably and move on to new premises when ready. This approach frees up space for new businesses and entrepreneurs to benefit from the Centre and its support.

The Council says that some current occupants of the Centre have been there for a long time.

When Harborough District Council took over management of the Innovation Centre on 1 July 2019, long-term occupiers were initially told their licences would not be renewed when they expired in accordance with the aims of the Innovation Centre’s agreed lettings policy which states that businesses would have a limited stay.

However, the Council now says it “recognises that this could cause undue difficulty for some firms.” Therefore the Council is going to offer the affected occupants flexibility and agree departure dates that work for them as best as possible.

The Council is now writing to occupants at the Innovation Centre to explain the more flexible approach and reiterate its offer to support and assist the affected businesses in moving to suitable new premises.

The council says: “Harborough District Council is committed to supporting new and established businesses across the Harborough district and encouraging enterprise and innovation which is crucial for the vibrancy of our local economy. The Innovation Centre, and its occupants, play a key role in this.”

Councillor Phil King, Leader of Harborough District Council and assets lead, said: “We are acutely aware of the important role businesses play in our district and we’re delighted to see so many start-ups navigate their way successfully through their initial years. It is important that we continue to provide this important launch pad for emerging businesses in the district, but we recognise that the way existing occupants have been informed about the need to relocate could have been handled better.

“We have taken immediate steps to make sure our existing occupants are given the support and flexibility they need to make the right choices for their business as they look to find more permanent premises and I would like to apologise for any concern our initial approach may have caused.

“I have asked senior officers to meet with businesses at the Innovation Centre and a meeting has been arranged with the Chairman of the Innovation Centre board.”

Earlier this year, it was announced that the Innovation Centre has helped deliver an estimated £19million boost to the Harborough district economy since it opened. The Council has recently invested nearly £200,000 in a new café and entrance lobby to improve the centre.