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How do you combat local government financial challenges, with a city which is the fourth fastest growing economy in the country?

Simple… you utilise underused council buildings and turn them into income generating hubs of activity which support the growth of the diverse local economy. This is exactly what Brighton & Hove City Council have done, by teaming up with local Coworking & Flexible office operator, Freedom Works.

Freedom Works, a local Coworking & Flexible office operator, will be opening their 10th site (and 9th in Sussex) at Bartholomew House, the current city centre location of council offices in Brighton.

“Post pandemic, nationally we have witnessed a huge shift in how offices are used by large employers, such as councils, now they don’t need as much space as they once did with hybrid working”, explains Jon Trigg, Founder and Managing Director of Freedom Works. “So, rather than sitting on empty space, which is costing them money, forward thinking local authorities are looking at clever ways to utilise their space to generate income, whilst providing a good economic and social outcome”, Trigg goes on to explain.

The initiative is repurposing 2 floors, amounting to 16,000 sq ft of coworking and flexible office space in the heart of the Laines, whilst leaving enough space for the council to deliver its service in their new hybrid office and working styles.

The Sussex based operator is refurbishing what was open plan space for council officers into 40 separate offices, to cater for teams of 2 to 70 and coworking space for those wishing to hot desk in the centre of the city.  In addition to the offices, there will be 5 meeting rooms which can be booked by the hour by local businesses who need city space, but without the commitment.

The remit from the council was to not only deliver an income stream for Brighton & Hove, but work with an operator who would ensure the latest workspace to open in central Brighton to be affordable for the residents, and encourage economic growth and support.

“Our focus will be to create affordable office space, as well as hot desking to the businesses and entrepreneurs of Brighton & Hove”, elaborate Jon Trigg.  “We’ll continue to deliver our partnership of delivering business support through relationships like Barclays Eagle Labs, into the Brighton site, providing a supportive environment for our members”, Trigg continues.

Furthermore, the benefits of the workspace which is looking to house up to 150 office members will have further benefits to the city, from the lunchtime trade, which alone will add £120,000 to the local economy annually to providing space which will help support and maintain the creation of minimum 12 full time jobs in the city.

The new workspace will be known as Freedom Works – Barts House, and will be accessed via Black Lion Street, with views over the sea from some offices. The Freedom Works team are looking to an opening in early 2024, with a number of businesses already signed up and looking forward to showing how smart thinking can help not only the local economy, but the community as a whole.

“Being a proud Brightonian, I can’t wait to see the space we are creating, add value for not only our local economy by providing much needed affordable city centre space, but equally to help support the community with the revenue we will generate for the council”, concludes Trigg.

Councillor Jacob Taylor, Deputy Leader and Lead for Finance, said: “This exciting new workspace in the thriving heart of the city provides an excellent opportunity for businesses.

“Our partnership with Freedom Works will create needed workspace in the city, support local economic growth while also providing the council with a new source of income.

“Local government finances across the country continue to be under strain as we struggle with rising inflation, increased demand and real term cuts to our core funding by central government.

“It’s by adopting innovative approaches to generating income we can protect front line council services while supporting local economic growth and also adding social value enabling diverse local businesses and communities to flourish.

“I look forward to visiting the new workspace and seeing how it benefits Brighton & Hove businesses in the community”

In addition to physical office space, Freedom Works will also help provide crucial links and networking opportunities for local businesses and communities to enable them to collaborate, grow and thrive.

If you would like to arrange a tour or would like more information, then please contact Freedom Works on 01273 977220 or via [email protected].

Check out the pictures below for a sneak peek at the progress!