Swindon’s Carriage Works creative and tech innovation hub gets on track with design agency Bravedog as first tenant

Branding and design agency Bravedog is to become the first tenant to move into Swindon’s Carriage Works, the town’s long-awaited innovation hub for tech and creative businesses.

The Carriage Works is being developed in phases in former railway workshops on Sheppard Street.

The refurbishment of an initial 7,000 sq ft, which is taking place on a demand-led basis, is due to be completed next month and open to tenants in January.

Some 200 work spaces will be created as well as meeting rooms and facilities. A further 6,000 sq ft will be refurbished and open for business from spring next year.

The building will house a creative, tech and innovation incubator with flexible managed workspace – something Swindon has lacked over recent years. Equivalent spaces in Oxford and Bristol, such as that city’s Engine Shed – also housed in a former railway building – have created vibrant business and innovation hubs, helping develop further their burgeoning tech and creative industries.

Planning permission for the initial phase of Carriage Works was secured by Forward Swindon, Swindon Borough Council’s regeneration company, in February and is part of its larger Great Western Works project to revitalise a section of the town’s former rail works close.

Bravedog, an integrated design agency that describes itself as “creating, rescuing and re-imagining” brands, will relocate to the Carriage Works from an office on Swindon’s Kembrey Park in January.

Managing director Nick Prescott said: “We are delighted to be moving to our new home at The Carriage Works. It’s an amazing building that forges tonnes of heritage with an ultra-smart 21st century environment.

“Forward Swindon’s vision for the Carriage Works is typified in their considered approach that honours the original architecture and uses new technologies in things like energy efficiency and light management to make it work in today’s world.

“It’s an ideal space for us that encourages collaboration and promotes a sense of community – we can’t wait to move in. Bravedog is committed to helping The Carriage Works become the centre of tech, creative and innovation in the area.”

The refit has been carried out with fast-growing agile businesses in mind with a combination of open-plan and private enclosed office space. The infrastructure has been designed to support software engineering, hardware design, and real-time collaboration.

An operator is being appointed to manage the refurbished space and will be expected to generate income for the council and support business development.

Forward Swindon director of new development partnerships Paul Chamberlain said: “We are a step closer to delivering our long-term vision for the Carriage Works – restoring life to the buildings and bringing innovation back to where it belongs.”

Forward Swindon’s objective is to foster a community of entrepreneurs and pioneers based in Swindon who will thrive from the ‘cluster benefits’ of being co-located, and having access to a wide range of existing investor networks and other businesses/ agencies that provide start-up services in Swindon.

Tenants will be able to further benefit from a flexible range of options and tariffs – from co-working ‘desk share’ arrangements through to dedicated offices.

Swindon Borough Council cabinet member for regeneration, Cllr Garry Perkins, added: “It’s great to welcome Bravedog to the Carriage Works. Nick and his team have visited the site on several occasions and seen for themselves that we’re delivering something Swindon will be proud of. The council will be setting out the details of future development phases over the next couple of months.”

Pictured, from left: Paul Chamberlain, director of new development partnerships, Forward Swindon; Claire Dore, head of partnerships, Bravedog; Nick Prescott, founder/owner, Bravedog; Doug Kerrigan, project manager, Forward Swindon

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