Silverdale Enterprise Centre, in Newcastle under Lyme, is part of Staffordshire County Council’s network of ‘easy-let’ office and workshop accommodation locations. S Jones Containers worked with the council to create 12 new converted container units to form part of their extended easy-let workshop offering.

The County Council operates a number of enterprise centres and workshop units across Staffordshire. Its earliest units date back to the early 1980s and have been a fundamental part of the economic regeneration strategy since then.

The enterprise centres provide an “easy in, easy out” affordable workshop space for a wide range of small businesses in the local area. Silverdale Enterprise Centre is just one of the sites offering easy let units from the council.

In operation since July 2005, Silverdale Enterprise Centre comprises 19 unfurnished flexible office/workshops and nine industrial workshop units. The centre offers affordable commercial space for start-up and small to medium-sized businesses wishing to progress to rented accommodation.

The challenge
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Staffordshire County Council anticipated that a number of people in their county may lose their job. This in turn would lead to increased interest and demand for workshop units, as people were starting their own businesses following furlough or redundancy. The County Council’s units were particularly in demand thanks to the flexibility of the short-term lease on offer.

The workshop units at Silverdale Enterprise Centre were at full occupancy, and the onsite team were receiving a number of enquiries for high quality, small workshops for start-up businesses. The County Council decided to expand their available workshop unit availability by building more workshop units in an unused part of the site’s car park.

Staffordshire County Council needed the new workshop units to be functional for the next 25 plus years, so a robust structure of high quality was important. S Jones Containers were successful in securing the winning Country Council’s procurement bid due to the quality of our proposed specification and price.

The solution
S Jones Containers provided a bespoke specification for 12 bespoke workshop/retail units, built from converted 40ft containers. The County Council specified that the units needed to have simplicity and be robust in nature, whilst also providing a comfortable, productive work environment for the tenants.

With this in mind, the containers were modified to create functional workshops that could be used for a variety of business types. S Jones Containers conversion team insulated the units and lined each one with OSB3 Sterling board. The container workshops were fitted out with electrics, including bright lighting and practical power sockets. A durable workbench was fitted in the far end of each workshop.

The container transformation was completed by replacing the standard shipping container cargo doors with double glazed French entrance doors. Each container was repainted in green to complement the existing surroundings of the site. Roller shutter doors were added for additional security and to give the units an individual pop of colour.

In addition to the container workshop units, a toilet block unit for workshop occupants, and a separate kitchenette area with full disabled access were created.

What Silverdale Enterprise Centre had to say
Staffordshire County Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills Philip White said: “The expansion of Silverdale Enterprise Centre has been a welcome boost in this area of Newcastle under Lyme. It demonstrates our commitment as a county council to support start-up and small businesses — ensuring they have excellent facilities with flexible tenancies, allowing them to concentrate on successfully running their company.

“The size of these container units is ideally suited for new business start-ups for them to get established before moving on to larger premises. Careful consideration has gone into the design of the new units to cater for as many different types of businesses as possible.”

Andrew Capella, Conversions General Manager at S Jones Containers, commented: “Containers lend themselves well to being converted into workshops. They are naturally robust and secure and can be readily transformed into a productive space for a new enterprise. The conversions team at S Jones Containers are no strangers to creating bespoke workshops so it was great to work with Staffordshire County Council on expanding their existing offering.

“The newly converted units at Silverdale Enterprise Centre will provide the site with flexible, purpose-built workshops that will suit a vast range of small businesses. Hiring a bricks and mortar workshop or office can be a huge expense to a new start-up, but 40ft containers provide enough space to create a functional workshop at an affordable price. It’s been great to work on a project that invests into the local economy, and we’re looking forward to see how local businesses use their new workshops.”

Find out about start-up support and space in Staffordshire