The first phase of an exciting refurbishment of several Victorian railway arches in Worcester is nearing completion.

The Arches-Worcester initiative, which has received an investment of over £3 million from central government’s Cultural Development Fund, aims to create a new cultural quarter for the City. 

A number of railway arches located between Foregate Street, the Hive and the riverside are being sympathetically refurbished into spaces for creative businesses. Under the terms of the Cultural Development Fund investment, the refurbished Arches must be let for creative and artistic purposes only. 

The first four arches are now almost complete and are expected to welcome tenants from early in the New Year.

Mark Evans, the University of Worcester’s Assistant Director – Estates, who has led the development, said: “We’re really pleased to see the first four Arches now nearing completion. It has been a challenge at times, particularly in sourcing supplies and in working in a quite restricted space, but with lots of careful planning, I think what we have achieved is really special.”

All four studios have a kitchenette, disabled toilet, and spaces for displays. Accessibility was designed in from the start with all front doors being automated and a level threshold at the entrance.

Cllr Adrian Gregson, Chair of the Arches Worcester Steering Group, said:   “It’s fantastic to see this new cultural quarter for the city take shape.  The refurbished Arches will be ideal spaces for creative individuals and businesses to use in the New Year.  The whole area will benefit from the increase in footfall which this significant investment is set to bring.”

The refurbishment has been carried out by Worcestershire-based construction firm, Speller Metcalfe.

Matthew Bailey, Small Works Manager at Speller Metcalfe, said: “We are delighted to have worked the Worcester Cultural Partnership to deliver such a significant local project, which has garnered lots of positive interest from visitors and residents alike. Now that the glass is in place it has really brought the vision of The Arches initiative to life, and we look forward to handing over the completed project in the coming weeks.”

Worcester City Council has been seeking an agency to market and manage the studios to prospective tenants. 

A number of arches in the vicinity have already been independently occupied by restaurants and bars, a brewery, a coffee bar, entertainment and industrial design units.