Nuneaton building to deliver on top-rated economic potential

Nuneaton is a town on the move. An evolving town fuelled by creativity, energy and enterprise...

In 2023, Nuneaton was named as the town which offers the best economic opportunities in the whole of the UK.

The highly-respected UK Vitality Index, compiled by property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton, considered all that is now happening in Nuneaton and all that is coming down the track - and they liked what they saw. The investment potential of the town, they calculated, was the highest in the country.

The accolade is well-merited and a tribute to the resilience and enterprise of the people and businesses of Nuneaton. Like those in every town and city across the UK, they have endured a bruising few years - but they are bouncing back. The Vitality Index rating provides evidence that the regeneration of Nuneaton, heavily driven by the local authorities, has been noted on a national scale.

Nuneaton has long contributed much to the national stage. George Eliot, Gareth Edwards, Larry Grayson and George Reader (what a chat show sofa they would make up!) each left lasting imprints on British cultural history. Now the town is looking to the future. Powered by £23.2 million from the Government’s Towns Fund, it is to rebooting from the challenges of Covid, Brexit and rising costs.

Key to this revival is the Transforming Nuneaton (TN) programme, a package of regeneration projects delivered by Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council and Warwickshire County Council. With a funding and investment value of just under £155 million, TN is a major joint commitment by public and private sectors. That commitment is driving transformation and, as the Vitality Index proves, generating wide interest and confidence in the town’s future.

Transforming Nuneaton is an ambitious programme and, as such, will take time to implement but one of its key anchor projects - Grayson Place - is well underway. The first phase of construction, a 145-room hotel, is taking shape with the imposing new building due to open in August. Phase Two will comprise a new town centre campus for North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) along with new restaurants, bars, coffee shops and retail and living. It will reshape the town centre and stimulate the town economy far into the future.

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council’s Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economy and Transformation, Cllr Kris Wilson said: “It is great to see the first phase of the Transforming Nuneaton programme moving forward. Grayson Place is well on the way and all the vibrancy and opportunities that it will bring to the town centre will benefit the town far into the future.

Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, said: “Transforming Nuneaton is a bold and ambitious programme which will deliver significant long-term benefits for the town. It is an excellent example of collaborative working by national and local government, alongside the expertise of local people and businesses, and I am delighted to see it progressing.”

Nuneaton is a town on the move. An evolving town fuelled by creativity, energy and enterprise, as exemplified by the remarkable story of Saints Nuneaton. This social enterprise has harnessed significant support from local and national government to transform one of the town centre’s most historic buildings from potential dereliction into a brilliant community resource.

The Saints adventure began in 2019 when Together for Change, a joint venture of the Diocese of Coventry and Church Urban Fund, decided they wanted to do something in Nuneaton. Funding of £1.8million from the Towns Fund enabled acquisition of the imposing four-storey building in Newdegate Street. Built in 1898, it was for a long time the Conservative Club, then briefly a nightclub before falling into closure and disrepair. It could have become a blot on the town centre. Instead, it is now a vibrant community hub.

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council bought the site, leasing it to the Saints at a peppercorn rent, thereby making the project sustainable for the long term. Every day, that move massively benefits the people of the town. The Saints deliver all aspects of community regeneration, tackling unemployment, poor educational attainment and low aspirations, with particular focus on young people and families. They train people to become work-ready and increase their confidence and aspirations.

Alongside this, Saints provide support and space for new start-ups, but the story is just beginning. Still ahead is refurbishment of the once-grand first floor ballroom which will provide a space for people to engage in sports, dance, drama, music, art and creative digital media.

Jet Jones, who is overseeing the project as chief executive of Together for Change, said: “It has been four years since we came up with the concept and decided to take on the building and, even though we opened just before lockdown, the support we have received from the local community, along with funding from the Towns Fund, has been tremendous, and allowed us to support the community during a vital time when many need support.

“It is amazing to see Saints buzzing with families and other members of our community. I and my family are all from Nuneaton, and I believe it is a fantastic town with fantastic people. The Saints team are passionate about our community and believe it can indeed thrive once again.. The funding and support we have had from local and national government has been vital, but all this wouldn’t have happened without the town getting behind the project and bringing their talents and energy to it.”

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