Small business workspace option for Carrickfergus Civic Centre following review

Carrickfergus Civic Centre has been recommended as a workspace for small businesses in a review carried out for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 3:00 pm

The Business Space Review published in July was carried out by CBRE NI and presented to councillors at a meeting of the local authority’s Borough Growth Committee on Monday evening.

The review said that all space within Carrickfergus Enterprise Centre is fully occupied with a waiting list of more than 20 businesses, the majority of which require workshop space of between 300 and 500 sq ft.

The report has recommended that consideration should be given to use of council assets to support small business growth at sites such as Carrickfergus Civic Centre which it described as “a site with good potential”.

Carrick Civic Centre.

Commenting on an overall lack of space for small and medium size workshop space across Mid and East Antrim, the CBRE review states: “Although enterprise centres remain generally fit for purpose, there is a fundamental lack of space and support for start-up businesses.

“Support is still required to encourage businesses to move on from enterprise centres. However in the current climate and lack of available accommodation, this is not possible.”

The business space review notes that within Carrickfergus, small workshop units are available at Kilroot Business Park.

The CBRE report continues: “We would suggest encouraging the enterprise centre to work with Kilroot Business Park to assist small business growth which need small space but also require the support that the enterprise centre can provide.”

The report also noted: “Working closely with the enterprise centres and encouraging the enterprise centres to work with other business parks should be considered.”

Meanwhile, Ledcom in Larne  has 82 per cent occupancy with 80 per cent occupancy at Willowbank Business Park.

In Ballymena, all light industrial workspace units in Galgorm, Ballee and Ballykeel are operating at 100 per cent occupancy.

Kelli McRoberts, manager, of Carrickfergus Enterprise Centre, said she “broadly welcomed” the report findings.

“I do agree with the need for fit for purpose space, particularly grow on space, within Mid and East Antrim.  We are currently 100% occupied and have been for over 18 months with a waiting list for space.”

Speaking at the Borough Growth meeting, Ursula O’Loughlin, head of Economic Development, said: “There is a huge lack of supply of small industrial space, particularly in Ballymena. Small industrial workspace in Larne and Carrick needs significant upgrade and refurbishment.

“We need to work closely with enterprise centres to encourage moving on but there is nowhere to move on to.”

She also noted the importance of exploring development through joint ventures. “Going forward, we need to invest to make square footage fit for purpose,” she said.

Coast Road Ulster Unionist Councillor Maureen Morrow said: “In one way it is very good news that we have had so many start-ups and growth that we are short on this type of space.

“This is something the council needs to work on and needs to support the enterprise agencies. I am happy to propose we go with the recommendations.”

Knockagh DUP Cllr Peter Johnston said: “It is good news, but ultimately, we can’t take our eye off the ball. There is a problem out there. We are losing business to neighbouring councils. There is still a lot of work to be done.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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Click here to read: Carrickfergus welcomes three new businesses to the town centre

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