A pioneering project to set up a network of linked co-working venues for small businesses across Shropshire is to be launched early next year with the first venue based in Oswestry.

Oswestry is to be the trail blazer for the new scheme which will give small businesses access to professional workspaces linked to similar venues to be set up across the county.

The first of the new co-working venues, called Hadleigh Works, will be housed in the top floor of Oswestry’s Memorial Hall in Festival Square and is due to open in January 2022.

The project has been funded by Shropshire Council’s Economic Growth Recovery Programme using Government funding to directly support business recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.

It aims to respond to the post-pandemic shift in working methods by creating flexible working space and communal areas available to small businesses and entrepreneurs at a regular fixed fee.

Hadleigh Works has been set up by Shropshire businessman Vernon Hogg who has 25 years of business experience at senior management level and through his own company Hadleigh Management.

“The Vision for Hadleigh Works is to deliver a professional workspace for modern businesses into the heart of Shropshire creating new opportunities for local businesses and the local community and making Oswestry an even better place for business,” he said.

He explained that he was passionate about replicating the good practise he had experienced in other areas while creating an inspirational and collaborative workspace for Oswestry businesses.

Hadleigh Works will be a commercially run co-working facility with businesses paying a monthly subscription. It will include hot-desk and meeting spaces plus “break out” zones as well as networking events to encourage collaboration between businesses and entrepreneurs.

Vernon has linked up with Shropshire Council’s Invest in Shropshire team and the trustees of the Memorial Hall to create the new work environment. The aim is to set up other similar co-working spaces that will form part of the Shropshire Co-working Campus funded by Shropshire Council’s Economic Recovery Programme.

“This unique three-way partnership demonstrates that new ways of organisations working together post Covid-19 are both possible and achievable where there is a shared will and vision to make them work.

“We believe that bringing together a charity alongside public and private enterprises for wider economic and social benefit will become a template for how this type of innovative working relationship can add real value to a town and its surrounding areas,” he said.

Memorial Hall trustee Erica Moss said that introducing new business uses into the Festival Square area of Oswestry would rejuvenate that area of the town as well as boosting use of the Memorial Hall.

“Having co-working in the Memorial Hall will bring a new lease of life to a building which has served as a community hub since 1905 when it was built by a local entrepreneurial family for the benefit of the town and rural area.

“This legacy for the building will now definitely continue into the future and rejuvenate its use and position within the town – this is just the start,” said Erica.

Councillor Ed Potter, Shropshire Council cabinet member for economic growth said the council was utilising its Covid-19 Additional Recovery Grant for a number of innovative business support projects.

“We want to respond to the new ways of working by creating office spaces fit for the future across the county that will provide a lasting impact in their locations.

“This exciting new project will revitalise the Memorial Hall while providing a new and interesting workplace in the centre of Oswestry where businesses will benefit from a great business environment as well as all the town has to offer right on their doorstep,” he said.

Details on how to sign up to the Hadleigh Works membership deals are available by calling 07444 422185, by emailing info@hadleighworks.com or visiting the ‘register your interest’ web page at https://hadleighworks.com/

Pictured: Celebrating the new venture for Oswestry Memorial Hall were, left to right, Memorial Hall trustee Erica Moss, Claire Evans of Shropshire Council and Vernon Hogg of Hadleigh Management.