Stepnell transforms former factory into new £14m contemporary Creative Hub

A grade II listed former ironworks in Northampton has now been fully transformed by complete construction partner Stepnell and West Northamptonshire Council to provide local creative businesses with studios, workshops and managed workspaces.

The £14 million Vulcan Works development, located in the heart of the city’s Cultural Quarter, is a combination of renovation and new build, providing a total of 68 lettable units specifically aimed at start-ups and growing businesses within the creative industry.

With more than 150 years of experience in delivering public and private sector projects across central England and the south of the UK, award-winning contractor Stepnell started on site in March 2019 to construct and deliver the new facility.

Stepnell’s Midlands team, led by regional director Adrian Barnes, worked on site throughout the pandemic, using its expertise in restoration and conservation construction to carefully transform the 146-year-old building.

Adrian said: “We are delighted to have completed Vulcan Works – a tremendous achievement for everybody involved. We are extremely proud of everyone who has had a part to play in bringing this historic building back to life, providing an exciting space for new businesses to grow and thrive, while still retaining some of the original features and characters of the former factory.

“As with all heritage projects we had to overcome a number of challenges, especially with its town centre location requiring the use of a tower crane for material movement. As the project consisted of listed elements as well as new build, the interface between the elements had to be carefully considered and sequenced to ensure we got it right. Due to its diverse nature of work and historical importance, the project required more than 70 specialist contractors to deliver the build and we are delighted with the end result.”

The town centre scheme is expected to support up to 100 local businesses in its first ten years of operation, creating around 300 jobs for the local community.

Cllr Lizzy Bowen, West Northamptonshire Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth, said: “The project has delivered a collection of buildings that I know small creative businesses will want to call home.

“We were insistent on an extremely high standard of finish and that’s precisely what we’ve got. The transformation of this collection of buildings, some of which were in a terrible state of repair, is absolutely startling.”

Designed by architects Purcell UK, the project involved the refurbishment of the old iron stone work factories along Guildhall Road, the refurbishment of the former museum store and the creation of a new three-storey building, as well as constructing a brand-new block on Angel Street to create the new office, studio and managed workshops.

SEMLEP has contributed £6.3million towards the development through the Local Growth Fund, and a further £3 million is being provided by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) from the European Social Fund (ESF).

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