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Digital hub scheme on track for new year

WORK is about to start to transform a section of Bognor Regis’ railway station into a thriving creative digital hub.

 

Signing the lease is all that stands in the way of the creation of The Track in the building’s former parcel office.

 

Once that is signed, the £1m-plus project to create the focal point for the 21st century industries will be a few months’ away from opening. This is due to take place next April or May.

 

Some 30 people went along to the latest presentation on Monday about the project by Gareth Jones and Mandy Weston, the co-founders of the operator Town Square Spaces.

 

One of them, freelance graphic designer Matt Schmidt, said: “The project is really good. It’s a good opportunity to bring like-minded people together.

 

“It’s something that Bognor Regis has needed for a long time and can be the start of something really nice.

 

“After I graduated and I was in London, I was able to meet a lot of other people doing the same thing and it helped to spread ideas. This hub can do the same sort of thing here.

 

Another business owner present, Sally-Anne Watson, a graphics brand specialist, said she had been following the progress of the project since it began two years ago.

 

“We need a place like this to work, to meet up and to help with the growth we are experiencing along the south coast. This would allow us to get together and provide cohesion for us.”

 

Mr Jones said: “We had some people wanting to sign up today, which was really nice. There seems to be that optimism about this scheme.

 

There will be workspaces for 40-50 people. But it won’t be the kind of place where people are there every day Monday to Friday.

 

“We would expect they might only work there two days a week to mean there will be a community of 100-200 based at The Track.

 

“It’s not about seeking to get full straight away. It’s really important our first ten members know what they are signed up to.

 

“They need to be people who are going to live that culture. It’s much better to grow sustainably then trying to get everyone in.”

 

The Track will provide a shared and collaborative working place where entrepreneurs, local businesses and freelancers can mix and share ideas to boost their prospects and the town’s economy. T

 

They will also be able to access support and training.

 

A community space will be provided to enable a wider use of the facilities.

 

The Track is a unique project by West Sussex County Council, with backing from the Coast to Capital local economic partnership.

 

Anne de Sausmarez, the county council’s principal economic development officer, said: “The council sees this as an important opportunity.

 

“We want to bring in high value employment to this area and helping digital businesses is one way to achieve that. They provide high value jobs and are high profile businesses.”

 

Monday’s session also saw the new name and branding for The Track, produced by Hemingway Design and presented by Jack Hemingway.

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