Rural enterprise hub set for stately manor

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Work is underway to create the region’s latest rural enterprise hub, following planning approval and a £60,000 grant to Northumberland College from the North East Rural Growth Network.

The new facility will expand the existing enterprise activity that already takes place at Kirkley Hall, near Ponteland.

The venue currently hosts community events, training and activities associated with 900 students, as well as zoological gardens, farm, equestrian centre, café and conference venue.

The hub will be based in the courtyard area of the main listed building and will support local businesses and people wishing to start up new businesses.

The new development will also pilot a new approach to renting small office and flexible workshop space to micro-enterprises, and provide access to rural enterprise support services.

The project is expected to create six full-time jobs and will specifically target and support budding entrepreneurs aged between 16 and 24 years to become self-employed, as well as sustaining existing local businesses.

The Kirkley Hall Enterprise Hub will be operational from February 2015. To date, six other enterprise hubs have already been developed and are open for businesses in Alnwick, Wooler and Hexham.

The grant was awarded as part of the Enterprise Hubs programme from the North East Rural Growth Network which is governed by a regional partnership under the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and North East Farming and Rural Advisory Network.

Marcus Clinton, from Northumberland College, said: “The approval of the planning application is a major step forward for the project. We’re excited about turning the plans into reality.”