Hambleton Managed Workspace Project case study

The Evolution Business Centre in Northallerton and Leeming Bar Food Enterprise Centre support the local economy by offering new and young businesses specialist managed business space. The facilities on offer will help them to start-up, establish and grow, as well as providing access to on-site support.

The project location 

Northallerton and Leeming Bar are both located in the Hambleton District of North Yorkshire. Evolution Business Centre is located on the outskirts of Northallerton, the largest market town in the District as well as the County town. Northallerton is a principal service centre and has a key role in the provision of employment, services and housing.

Northallerton Town Centre

Leeming Bar has developed a reputation for food businesses with a number of food producers being located on the well established Leeming Bar Industrial Estate. To strengthen this food bias, 70% of the adjacent Leeming Bar Business Park has been allocated for use by food and food related businesses. The Food Enterprise Centre is contributing towards this allocation.

Leeming Bar Business Park

History and project need

Northallerton is supported under the Renaissance Market Towns (RMT) programme and is a focus for appropriate Yorkshire Forward support. Leeming Bar is a major employment area for the District and is close to Bedale, another Renaissance Market Town within Hambleton. Consultations take place with local businesses during regular reviews of Hambleton District Council’s service activities and through this process the Council was able to identify a lack of high quality managed workspace for new and young businesses. In the absence of private sector investment to deliver such schemes, there was a recognised need for the public sector to undertake a focused intervention in order to meet local needs. Delivery of specialist managed workspace accommodation is aimed at encouraging higher value businesses and employment opportunities.

The Hambleton Managed Workspace Programme aimed to fulfil this requirement by creating two specific capital projects – the Leeming Bar Food Grade Workspace (now known as Leeming Bar Food Enterprise Centre) and the Northallerton Managed Workspace Project (now known as Evolution Business Centre). 

Evolution Business Centre

The need for Evolution was identified in the Hambleton Renaissance Business Plan and a feasibility study had confirmed demand for small, flexible, business units with business, administrative and IT support. An adequate supply of high quality premises for SMEs (particularly starter units and managed workspace developments) to support the birth, survival and growth rates of local SMEs within high growth/high value sectors has been recognised as a strategic objective at a local, regional and national level.

Further detailed research was required to test the proposal. Yorkshire Forward panel consultant, Genecon, was appointed to investigate the feasibility of the project, with particular reference to the supply of, and demand for, business space in Northallerton. It also considered what type of facility would best respond to any identified needs. Whilst Genecon found some available business space in and around Northallerton, the space available had significant issues associated with it. The report found that available units, usually of over 1,000 sq. ft, were too large for many new and small businesses. Many of the office units identified were in outlying rural areas, often based on conversion of farm and estate buildings. Others were not of sufficient quality, lacking broadband and ICT facilities or shared services and communal spaces to encourage networking.

A new build business centre project offered the opportunity to address all these issues and to provide a focal point for the provision of business support services helping both new and existing businesses within the town and its surroundings. Discussions with local estate agents confirmed the situation and provided further evidence
of demand. 

Leeming Bar Food Enterprise Centre

In 2002, a feasibility study commissioned by Yorkshire Forward identified that, whilst there was considerable demand for small (1,000 – 5,000 sq ft) food grade units throughout North Yorkshire, a lack of suitable food grade premises was restricting the establishment of new, and the growth of existing, food manufacturing businesses. As a result of this research Yorkshire Forward developed a pilot project at Melmerby, Ripon which resulted in the production of a Best Practice Model for a food grade workspace development.


Seeing the potential to develop this model, Hambleton District Council commissioned its own feasibility/demand study to specifically consider the development of a similar food grade workspace project at Leeming Bar where there is a strong, existing concentration of food businesses and demand for low-cost food grade premises. This report, undertaken by Networked Team Support Ltd, served to reinforce The Evolution Business Centre in Northallerton and Leeming Bar Food Enterprise Centre support the local economy by offering new and young businesses specialist managed business space. The facilities on offer will help them to start-up, establish and grow, as well as providing access to on-site support the findings of the North Yorkshire study. It clearly identified that there is demand for food grade premises within the Yorkshire region and, more specifically, the North Yorkshire sub-region and further reinforce the fact that Leeming Bar is an ideal location for a food-grade workspace project. It benefits from excellent distribution links because of its close proximity to the A1. Leeming Bar also has a concentration of food businesses, reinforced by expansion at the new Leeming Bar Business Park, which is primarily aimed at food and food-related businesses.

Facilities at the Food Enterprise Centre

The feasibility study identified that of those businesses in the area looking for food grade premises, 50% had still not found anything suitable. There was a lack of suitable premises and few premises with good distribution links and access to site support. This was reinforced by research undertaken with local estate agents. The feasibility study also highlighted that close proximity to other food businesses allows experiences to be shared. 

Room for businesses to grow

Evolution Business Centre totals 20,000sq ft with 14,000sq ft of operational managed workspace. There are 29 individual office suites, a “hot desking” suite, virtual office services and 3 fully equipped meeting rooms. The facilities are set around an attractive central atrium, through which light streams into the building. Suite sizes range from 25 to 75 sq metres and have been designed so that tenants can set up and expand within the Centre as their businesses develop and grow.

Facilities at Evolution

The Food Enterprise Centre is a 24,000sq ft development and provides high quality, affordable, food grade premises to rent for secondary food production businesses. It offers 11 units in total – 1 x 1,200 sq ft unit, 6 x 1,500 sq ft food grade starter units and 4 x 3,000 sq ft grow-on units. There is also a management suite intended to provide on-site technical support and access to training and business services. The suite also provides fully equipped meeting rooms.

A unit at the Food Enterprise Centre

The project has been based on the previously developed Melmerby food incubator project near Ripon and the on-site support suite is seen as a key to the project as it will provides valuable central facilities for tenants and to specialist food related technical advice. The latter has proven to be particularly relevant for new food companies as it is often a lack of knowledge of technical processes and legislative requirements that provides a major barrier to business success.

Managing the centres

At the Food Centre, rather than staffing the support suite itself, the Council has procured a more cost effective management contract with a specialist food consultancy business, through an open tender process. Bare Earth Ltd will staff and run the support suite, overseeing tenancies and providing day to day facilities management. Management of Evolution operates in a similar way to the Food Centre, in that the management service has been procured from a private sector third party. Business Support & Development Ltd are providing the Centre management and reception service on behalf of the District Council.

Reception at Evolution

The cost of the management services are to be covered by rental charges or space offered to the management in lieu of rent.

Green credentials

Both projects have been developed to BREEAM ‘very good’ ratings. Evolution Business Centre has excellent green credentials. Environmentally friendly features include solar panels on the roof to heat water for sinks and showers, underground rain water storage, use of renewable timber, high insulation levels, solar gain, natural ventilation and facilities for staff that cycle to work to store bicycles.

The Food Enterprise Centre uses highly efficient air source heat pumps for heating and provides facilities for staff that cycle to work to store bicycles. 


Yorkshire Forward £1,950,000
ERDF £2,500,000
Hambleton District Council £1,550,000



Project delivery

November - Design commenced
December - Planning applications submitted
March - Planning approval granted
June - Out to tender
September - Contractor appointed
October - Construction commences
July - Food Enterprise Centre completed
September - Evolution completed


• 1st tenant moved into Evolution at 1 December 2009, less than 3 months after the building was completed.
• 1st virtual tenant secured in December 2009

Lessons Learnt

• Hambleton District Council drew upon experience of developing other managed workspace (Springboard and Momentum Centres at Stokesley). Many characteristics of the buildings were including in the Evolution specification. Costs need to be carefully monitored at all stages of the project. A clause in the contractors contract to ensure that subcontractors are paid promptly would have been useful. The lack of such a clause resulted in an unwillingness for subcontractors to return for snagging issues as they had not been paid promptly.
• Defining the technical specification for the Food Enterprise Centre units took considerable time and effort. Specialist input was required to ensure that the units provide a good basic food grade shell whilst maintaining maximum flexibility to ensure that the units can be easily adapted to suit as many different food activities and processes as possible. Prior to commencement of the project, the Council approached the Regional Food Group for technical support to ensure that the specification was fit for purpose.
• It is essential that a BREEAM assessor is on board at the commencement of project development. This will ensure that BREEAM considerations are built in to the initial design and costings, rather than having to be considered retrospectively when a contractor is appointed.

More about this success story
To find out more about the Hambleton Business Space project please contact:

Clair Hewitt
Economic Development Officer
Hambleton District Council
01609 767102

Mark Firth
Yorkshire Forward
Victoria House
2 Victoria Place
LS11 5AE

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