Friday, October 21, 2005

The regeneration of Elsie Whiteley

Welcome news for Halifax, with developers of the Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre confirming that the centre will open for business in July next year.

This is the redevelopment of one of the area's many textile mills, to create a new centre for growing businesses. It's a long overdue development for the town - in neighbouring Huddersfield, the Media Centre has done much to nurture businesses and bring a little life back into the town centre, reflected in Huddersfield's recent inclusion in a list of the UK's most creative towns (alongside Hebden Bridge and Sheffield, naturally).

The Media Centre was established in 1995 with public sector funding, but is now self-supporting. The Halifax scheme is a long way off that, of course - it's currently backed by the regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, Calderdale borough council, and a dollop of European funding. As well as supporting new businesses (particularly, though I hope not too exclusively, in the 'digital and new media' industries), it's also intended to revive a part of town desperately in need of some new investment - the Elsie Whiteley mill is sandwiched between the arse-end of the town centre and the poor communities of west Halifax, alongside the less-than-graceful Burdoch Way flyover, a location that may well deter some potential tenants. It is however well positioned to benefit from links with the Dean Clough complex, a thriving proof that there can be new life in those old dark, satanic mills.

For a 2003 overview of developments in Halifax and Huddersfield, including Dean Clough and the Media Centre, see here.

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