Dover Big Local is excited to be delivering the Co-innovation Project which will offer leisure activities and business start-up opportunities in the heart of Dover.

Most Dover residents recognise the need to resurrect our high street. The move to online shopping and the challenges of high rents and business rates make starting a high street business feel like a big risk. Dover Big Local have been given temporary use of the former Co-op building in Stembrook for a period of up to 2 years by its owners Dover District Council, while its site awaits redevelopment. This gives DBL an opportunity to follow up on the Pop-up Business training offered last year by offering business incubator units in which people wishing to try out a business idea can do so at low risk in terms of set up costs. Floor space, heat, light and internet are all included in a low per-metre space rental and users have flexibility to design the space they need within their area. All kinds of businesses from coders to creatives are welcomed and we have some very exciting initial users.

Meetings rooms, space for training and support in getting people back into work will also be offered.

Further business training will be offered in 2019 to complement the courses such as food hygiene, first aid and retail work skills DBL already offers.

Whilst business start ups will take up half the floor space of the former store, Dover Big Local also recognises that there is a lack of affordable indoor leisure activities in Dover. The area of the store nearest the entrance will offer activities for all ages. A gallery space is already confirmed, but soft play and bowling are amongst the options Dover residents have requested and ways to bring these or alternative entertainments to the Co-innovation space are being worked on now. DBL will be looking for franchisees to run the leisure activities so if you are interested in this opportunity do get in touch.

We would love to hear from people wanting to start businesses with us, use the meeting spaces or offer their time as volunteers to help run the space and activities.In the first instance please email Linda Aldred on, call into the DBL hub in the Charlton Centre or call 01304 449385 to find out how we can work together.

We expect to open the building in stages as businesses take up their spaces with the first users moving in in before Christmas.