Coworking partner announced
The council has announced its new coworking partner: Town Square Spaces Ltd (TownSq).
Innovative plans to re-shape the use of the town hall in Royal Tunbridge Wells have taken another step forward as Town Square Spaces Ltd (TownSq) has been confirmed as the council’s preferred partner in its new coworking space.
In December 2019 a Cross Party Working Group of councillors recommended that the council should develop a plan for the town hall as the council no longer needed all the office space it occupied within the building. The pandemic intervened, but in 2021 the same Working Group concluded that releasing space for coworking, with the council remaining in situ but on a reduced floorplate, would be the best option in the medium term.
Work was then undertaken to assess interest in such a scheme and identify potential partners to lease a substantial part of the town hall for the operation and provision of a coworking operation. This led to a decision taken by the council’s Cabinet on 17 March to enter into an agreement with TownSq to become the coworking partner.
Coworking and small business experts
Coworking and small business experts, TownSq also operate spaces in London, North and South Wales, West Sussex, Oxfordshire and Devon. The founders have more than 10 years experience in coworking and small business support, and can take people from an idea right through to founding, investment and growth. It runs programmes such as Startup Club, which aims to help people who want to start a business but may be unable to leave their job or other day time commitments, along with the TownSq Accelerator to support fast track businesses that are aiming to grow quickly.
Economic contribution to the town centre
Lee Colyer, Director of Finance, Policy and Development, TWBC said:
‘The town centre is undergoing a noticeable recovery, with previously empty premises being repurposed, new facilities opening and with more people around through changing work habits. The town hall occupies a prominent site and through this coworking announcement it will make a far greater economic contribution to the town centre through longer hours of operation and a diverse range of businesses using the civic site.’
Mandy Weston, Chief Operating Officer at TownSq, said:
‘We're delighted to be a part of this project and are looking forward to creating a welcoming community of start-ups and small businesses in such a beautiful town.
The restrictions of the pandemic have inadvertently given us a different kind of freedom; New ways of working have been accelerated, helping us enjoy the best of both worlds as we boot the commute and work closer to home. We've seen time and time again that when you bring a diverse range of people together, and create the environment for individuals and businesses to grow, interesting things happen.
The project has already seen so much collaboration behind the scenes, and we look forward to bringing that same ethos of working together, to a physical space.’
Benefits for the wider town community
This exciting development for the council provides an opportunity for cost savings and increased income. Additionally, there are benefits for the wider town community with the increased footfall that will come from businesses locating in this important site in the centre of the town.
It is expected that the first phase of refurbishment will be completed by winter 2022 and the entire project by winter 2023.