A new community project to bring the derelict Stothert & Pitt factory buildings on the Lower Bristol Road back to life have been unveiled.
The Stothert & Pitt factory buildings facing Lower Bristol Road have stood derelict and decaying since the loss of the ‘Dyson School of Design Innovation’ scheme of 2007, at huge cost to local taxpayers.
After years of discussions within the community, a large group of talented and experienced Bath people have come together to deliver a special, world-class scheme for these buildings.
This scheme respects and celebrates their industrial heritage, secures public access for the whole community and creates a long-term legacy for future generations of local people.
Craneworks will create a cutting edge centre for invention where thousands of local people from all backgrounds – including children and young people – can come together to be inspired and to learn to create, invent and make.
It will provide clean and dirty making spaces and exhibition spaces for art, design, film, technology and good old-fashioned ‘hands on’ making. It will also teach business and enterprise skills.
Craneworks will re-skill, up-skill and future-proof local people to get jobs in creative, engineering and technology businesses or start businesses of their own.
Craneworks will also provide 35,000 sq ft of warehouse-style workspaces for creative, digital media and technology businesses of various sizes. This equals 250-300 jobs and will have a net positive impact exceeding £25 million GVA per year.
It will also provide conference, screening and exhibition facilities for these and other businesses to share their ideas, knowledge and products with the world. Organisers of the project have already received serious expressions of interest from several local and international businesses actively looking for creative workspace in Bath.
Craneworks is by the community for the community and is a social venture committed to social inclusion. Craneworks is a Community Interest Company (CIC) and is set to become a charity in the future.
The new scheme will provide incubator workspace to sit alongside established businesses and organisers want Craneworks to be Bath’s most significant example of Localism in action.
Their request of B&NES Council is to transfer these buildings (which are advised have a neutral or negative value) to Craneworks CIC under a Community Asset Transfer so they can restore and develop them with Government, Lottery and charitable funding and make them accessible to local people for local benefit.
Craneworks has been identified as a priority for Government funding in the West of England LEP’s recent Strategic Economic Plan; it is one of only 3 Bath projects from the 34 put forward to Government.
Craneworks will become a beacon of “New Bath” helping to keep young people in the city and to attract new talent and businesses. Craneworks is expected to help build Bath’s status as a World Contemporary City as well as a World Heritage City.
Sir James Dyson said: “I want Bath to be a city of high achievers, of great innovators, of brilliant creators. To do so, it must play to its strengths. Rather than going after the quick buck, Bath should invest in attracting, developing and supporting the businesses that open peoples’ minds. I look forward to seeing Bath build on its heritage as a city of culture and innovation.”
Rt. Hon. Don Foster MP added: “As recognised in the Nesta report, Bath is already building an international reputation as a centre for creativity and technology.
“However, to maximise the potential, to encourage new talent and ensure growth, additional multidisciplinary facilities are urgently needed. The Craneworks project is the ideal solution.
Professor Christina Slade, Vice-Chancellor, Bath Spa University said: “Bath Spa University fully supports this imaginative and exciting proposal, and will be actively involved in its development and implementation. This is the kind of opportunity that Bath urgently needs to embrace.”