CHORLEY is set to become the centre of the rapidly growing digital sector in Lancashire thanks to an ambitious £8.4m scheme being developed by the council.

Strawberry Fields, an advanced digital office park, creating 54,000sq ft of state-of-the-art office space providing high-value jobs for hundreds of people, is to be built at Euxton Lane.

The council won more than £4.1m funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) towards the cost of scheme and now work is expected to start later this month.

Cllr Alistair Bradley, Chorley Council leader, said: “This is a hugely important development for Chorley and residents will have noticed the signage going up on site and work is now underway with a view to this particular element of the wider development being completed early next year.

“Digital technology is the business of the future and this development will put Chorley right at the centre of digital technology in Lancashire.

“We are really excited to be creating such a high quality business facility in Chorley which will create the wealth of tomorrow with hundreds of well-paid and skilled jobs.

“This is one of the most significant business developments to happen in Chorley for a generation and it will drive forward economic growth. It has been estimated by independent experts that it could generate an additional £18.5 million for the Chorley economy.”

The centre will have a high capacity server and super-speed broadband vital for advanced digital businesses. There will be a new intensive business incubation facility for start up businesses with onsite business advisors and university researchers giving businesses extensive support in setting up and developing growth.

The businesses will be offered space which includes hot desks, micro pods, flexible desks and more traditional office suites and a training room will be on site offering workshop facilities as well as a networking zone. The building itself will be one of the most advanced environmentally friendly in Lancashire.

The 2.8 acre development is part of the council’s larger ‘digital health village’ masterplan for the 32 acre site which has outline planning permission for industrial/employment units, care home and specialist care facility, convenience store, family pub and/or medical centre, plus around 80 homes. The council will be working closely with Primrose Holdings to ensure this first part of the development is delivered as quickly as possible.

“We know that demand for space at the centre and the unique business support offer will be high with strong interest from the digital sector so I would urge interested businesses or people thinking of starting up such businesses to contact us on 01257 515151 for info.”