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New Allia business centre in Cambridge’s Guildhall to offer space for start-ups and community enterprises





Small businesses will be able to rent a space in the Guildhall after Cambridge City Council struck a deal with charitable organisation Allia.

The Guildhall in Cambridge which has plans to open more retail units on the ground floor . Picture: Keith Heppell. (58346440)
The Guildhall in Cambridge which has plans to open more retail units on the ground floor . Picture: Keith Heppell. (58346440)

The council hopes the move will boost support for start-up enterprises and the city centre economy.

It has agreed terms for Allia to let 680 square metres on the ground floor from the autumn for an initial two-year period, with the potential to extend.

The non-profit organisation will let workspace to start-ups, charities and enterprises, creating an innovation business community, with a dedicated reception, a range of private offices, a co-working suite and meeting rooms.

The new Allia Future Business Centre also has the potential to contain a shop, a café and a large exhibition space for community art groups and networks.

Cllr Mike Davey (Lab, Petersfield), executive councillor for finance, resources and transformation, said: “I am really pleased that we’ve been able to work with Allia on this initiative which I am sure will be welcomed by small companies, start-ups and others.

“We’re focused on supporting business in Cambridge and helping the city centre economy continue to recover from the pandemic. The new centre will be an important part of our approach.

“Allia already runs the impressive Future Business Centre on King’s Hedges Road so by working together we are able to bring something similar to the city centre.

“The Guildhall offers an excellent city centre base, and, with Allia’s support, I hope it will prove to be an appealing location for a number of organisations looking to use a flexible, collaborative workspace.”

The new centre is set to be open during normal office hours and weekends and Allia staff will manage their tenants, visitors and meeting rooms.

King's Hedges Atrium at Allia Future Business Centre. Picture: Julian Claxton (58346822)
King's Hedges Atrium at Allia Future Business Centre. Picture: Julian Claxton (58346822)

David Broach, director of Allia Future Business Centres, said: “Allia is extremely proud to be working with Cambridge City Council to establish a new workspace in such an iconic building in the heart of Cambridge.

“As the town centre continues to recover following the pandemic, the new Future Business Centre will breathe new life into the building, creating an impact business hub, alongside a new community café, retail and exhibition space, which will be used to support local community groups and organisations.

“The centre will also deliver business support to eligible businesses, with the aim of creating jobs, enabling sustainable growth and supporting the net-zero agenda.”

The move has been made possible as many council staff have continued to work remotely since the pandemic.

Office space at the council’s Mandela House offices on Regent Street meets the needs of its staff meaning that the ground floor area of the Guildhall is currently underused.

The council is reviewing its longer term needs for city centre office space as part of its Our Cambridge transformation programme, which is modernising how services are delivered.

Cllr Davey added: “Our council staff have shown great flexibility and commitment since the start of the pandemic, continuing to provide services to residents and adapting to new ways of working.

“With flexible working for staff now embedded in the way we operate, we’re taking a longer term look at what office accommodation we need in future.

“While we do that work it makes sense to put our underused office space to the best possible use. As well as helping businesses, the new centre will raise rental income that we can put back into providing services.

“I look forward to the new centre take shape at the Guildhall and seeing businesses and enterprises go from strength to strength.”

Originally the site had a Toll Booth on it in the 1200s, and a Shire House was added in the 1700s, and the existing Guildhall was built to replace both buildings for the local council in 1939. It is a Grade II listed building.

David Broach, director of Allia Future Business Centres, at the SmartLIFE Low Carbon Centre, which recently acquired by Allia Picture: Keith Heppell
David Broach, director of Allia Future Business Centres, at the SmartLIFE Low Carbon Centre, which recently acquired by Allia Picture: Keith Heppell

Initial work to prepare for Allia’s arrival will get under way shortly, with the centre due to open in October.

Allia hopes to let the offices and coworking desks over the summer, as well as taking bookings for meetings in the five rooms from external companies and community groups. Virtual office services will also be available.

The council has confirmed that letting out the ground floor will not affect any of the civic areas of the Guildhall such as the council chamber.

Joanna Gabryel, regional centre manager of Allia Future Business Centres, added: “We’re delighted to take on the running of another Future Business Centre in Cambridge, to support the local business community. Our centres are a friendly, dynamic business community and this one promises to be the same - we look forward to welcoming our new tenants and co-workers in the autumn.”

Allia Future Business Centre Cambridge recently announced its expansion in north Cambridge, with the acquisition of the SmartLIFE Low Carbon Centre from Cambridge Regional College. The building is on the same site as Allia’s main centre in Cambridge, which was purpose built in 2013 to help growing start-ups and small businesses through flexible workspace and free business support.



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