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Dormant office space at Norwich’s Dragonfly House to become SME support hub

PUBLISHED: 06:00 06 June 2014

St James Place / Dragonfly House on the bank of the River Wensum in Norwich

Picture: James Bass
For: EDP News
Eastern Daily Press © 2009  (01603) 772434

St James Place / Dragonfly House on the bank of the River Wensum in Norwich Picture: James Bass Copy: For: EDP News Eastern Daily Press © 2009 (01603) 772434

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

Part of a Norwich building that lay dormant following public sector cuts is to be transformed into a hub for fledgling businesses.

The second floor of Dragonfly House – near Barrack Street – has been taken over by Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services to create a support centre for up to 10 early stage companies.

The project is a joint partnership with the government who agreed an 18-month lease with NWES as part of its Space for Growth programme – an initiative to make use of empty government building by renting space to start ups, SMES, charities and social enterprises.

The 10,000 sq ft floor was previously used by the Broads Authority and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

John Balch, head of property of NWES, hopes the new site will attract firms from the professional services sector as the building is located next door to Grant Thornton and Birketts.

“This scheme is part of a property programme which is designed to take advantage of government assets,” he said.

“The government is a massive property owner, but as a result of the recession its requirements have changed.

“Before they would have just kept hold of these buildings and they would have been empty and not properly utilised.

“But they have now come up with the idea of businesses using these spaces.”

“Our job is to encourage enterprise, that is why we exist,” he added. “We want to start businesses as fast as we can and this property is part of our offer. 
“We are hoping that people will come in, take advantage of our offer of business support before eventually relocating to somewhere else in Norwich.”

Entrepreneurs were invited to an event held at Dragonfly House yesterday to see the space and learn more about NWES’ services.

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, who delivered a speech at the event, said it was right that the government took the “practical” approach when finding the best use for government assets.

“This is great for Norwich and it is super to be able to see the government doing a practical thing to support businesses. I am delighted to have played my part in this scheme when I was a minister in the cabinet office. Everyone from the Prime Minister downwards wants to see Space for Growth succeed.”

NWES has 61 properties on its books across the East of England and more than 400 tenants.

The organisation announced earlier this year that it would create four new enterprise centres, including a £4m start-hub in King’s Lynn.

• Do you have a business story for the Eastern Daily Press? Contact business writer Ben Woods on 01603 772426 or email

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  • ....and just where does Kevin Horne believe the N+WES gets it's funding from ?

    Report this comment

    Norfolk John

    Saturday, June 7, 2014

  • In an ideal world, the public sector would have no surplus space but in reality it does as it is tied in on ownedleased buildings. this initiative SAVES taxpayers money as Nwes will cover the running costs and sublet out to cover our own costs whilst supporting new businesses. We are already operating two such centres in Peterborough and Bury St Edmunds and so this is a welcome addition to the portfolio and anything to encourage enterprise should be applauded. P.S. 85%+ of businesses supported by Nwes make it past 18m so that should boost the local economy.

    Report this comment

    Kevin Horne

    Saturday, June 7, 2014

  • Yeah....let's have minimal in ...Somalia!

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Saturday, June 7, 2014

  • Nice initiative - good luck to the businesses going in. If 30% survive 18 months then this should be viewed as a success. Using public money to support enterprises is obviously a good use of that money. It is THAT obvious.

    Report this comment


    Friday, June 6, 2014

  • More of our taxes being poured down the drain!

    Report this comment

    Norfolk John

    Friday, June 6, 2014

  • Let's hope we get a lot more empty government buildings that can be let out soon. Fewer staff equals less government interference leading to lower costs for tax payers. Bring it on!

    Report this comment


    Friday, June 6, 2014

  • Well, I wish NWES all the best in this endeavour. But the fact of the matter is that if the government had been more accommodating with it's own then this would not have been dormant space in the first place. The previous tenants have found new accommodation in the private sector. Now the landlords are crowing about how good they are to the burghers of Norwich and Norfolk. This is just the public sector dressed in a sleazy suit stolen from the worst of the private sector.

    Report this comment

    George Ezekial

    Friday, June 6, 2014

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