17897Social enterprise Groundwork NE & Cumbria is launching a new strategy for its Greenhouse business centre as it continues to drive new revenue streams following changes in traditional funding sources.

The Greenhouse, which was the first commercial eco building in County Durham, provides high quality meeting and conferencing facilities as well as business units to lease, which are aimed at small to medium size enterprises looking for base where they are able to grow.

An integral part of the new strategy has involved the appointment of Charlet Stephenson as centre manager at the Greenhouse, which is on Greencroft Industrial Park in Annfield Plain.

The Greenhouse café, which now will be open to the local business community, has been improved, it has launched a new menu and will have longer opening hours.

The business centre’s meeting and conference rooms will be available for corporate events.

Charlet Stephenson has extensive business and managerial experience having spent 20 years in the hospitality industry, most recently as hotel manager at The Morritt Country House Hotel & Garage Spa.

Kate Culverhouse, Groundwork Chief Executive, said: “Groundwork is committed to underpinning its aims of changing people’s lives and places with strong management systems and business practices as well as delivering measurable social outcomes.

“Focusing on exemplary entrepreneurial business principles and looking at new ways of generating income has enabled Groundwork to continue to make a positive impact on the region when traditional public sector funding streams are no longer available.

“Charlet’s appointment, opening the café to the surrounding business community and making the Greenhouse available for corporate events will generate income, which pays for Groundwork’s community-orientated social enterprises.”

Charlet said: “The Greenhouse is a great place with a whole host of possibilities. My role will be to ensure it fulfils its full potential, which in turn will help fund Groundwork’s life-changing work across the region.”

She added: “I thrive on new challenges and I also am very excited about being involved in helping the centre’s catering offering improve and grow.”

Further development plans for the Greenhouse will be drawn up in the coming months, which may include providing off-site catering for functions.

The Greenhouse’s eco credentials include:

  • Building features, such as a geo-thermal heating and cooling system, designed to make the most out of natural resources while enhancing the local area.
  • A 35 metre high wind turbine that generates all the electricity for The Greenhouse.
  • The building was constructed from materials that have been reused, recycled or have come from sustainable sources
  • The wide range of natural flora and fauna surrounding the landscape, which is designed to promote biodiversity. This includes a lake, which is naturally filled by rainwater that drains from the roof.
  • All of the planting at the site is native and complements the area’s natural vegetation and provide a habit for a range of wildlife.

Groundwork spearheads projects that improve the self-esteem, physical health and general wellbeing of residents, initiatives that help people retrain, gain valuable work experience and improve their chances of employment, and schemes that breathe new life into redundant buildings and that transform rundown land into community-orientated open spaces.