PRZOOM - /newswire/ -
Aston Science Park, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 2007/03/20 - A scheme to secure the position of the Custard Factory in Digbeth as the largest and most vibrant centre for the creative industries in Europe has been boosted with a £6.4 million boost from regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.
Since 1990 the Custard Factory has been transformed from derelict factories into the city’s leading base of creative talent by entrepreneur developer Bennie Gray.
The former Birds Custard factory – which dates back to the late 19th century – is now home to more than 300 companies as well as bars, nightclubs, restaurants and shops employing more than 700 people.
Through the East Birmingham North Solihull Regeneration Zone, Advantage West Midlands (advantagewm.co.uk) will invest £6.4 million in the £20 million revamp of two buildings which are part of the Custard Factory complex that have yet to be developed.
These include the iconic Devonshire House in Digbeth High Street, the offices of Sir Alfred Bird, and Fazeley Studios in nearby Floodgate Street.
The investment will create a further 110 units at the Custard Factory, creating more than 330 new jobs and safeguarding another 175.
Work on the conversion will start in April and is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
Mark Pearce, Advantage West Midlands Director for Economic Regeneration, said: “The Custard Factory and the wider Digbeth area are one of Birmingham’s real success stories.
“Here you have one of the most vibrant creative communities anywhere in Europe but it is now running close to capacity and requires investment to make more space available.
“Devonshire House, in particular, is an amazing building in a prominent part of the city which, for the first time, will be restored to its original splendour.”
Bennie Gray, owner of the Custard Factory, said: “These two exciting Custard Factory developments encompass a rare mix of civic virtues.
“Between them they will create more than 300 creative jobs and meticulously restore one of Birmingham’s most illustrious old buildings and at the same time make a major contribution to the self sustaining regeneration of Eastside.
“Despite the huge demand for workspace and other facilities that will be created by these two developments, without the imaginative and positive funding support of Advantage West Midlands, they simply could not take place.”
Graham Edwards, Chief Executive of the East Birmingham North Solihull Regeneration Zone, said: “Following our formation in 2004, we quickly recognised the potential of the growing creative sector in Digbeth and identified it as one of our key strategic areas for targeting regeneration funds.
“Digbeth has a number of historic and architecturally significant buildings that are underused and working with the Custard Factory provides a real opportunity for turning Devonshire House, one of the most significant buildings in Digbeth, back into a thriving place for business once again.”