A HUGE new business centre worth more than £10 million has been given the greenlight.

The Launchpad – an innovation facility for small businesses and start-ups – will be built at Southend’s Airport Business Park, in Cherry Orchard Way.

The project is led by Southend Council and funded by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) Local Growth Fund, and will cost £10.5 million.

It will be three storeys high, with a mix of offices, workshops, research facilities and break out spaces, along with a café and seminar space.

Ipeco, an aircraft seating business based on the park, will be the first build on the new site.

Southend Council has estimated the Launchpad will create at least 230 jobs, though this figure could increase as the new businesses are expected to expand once they arrive.

The application has been approved by Rochford District Council.

Emma Cooney, the council’s director of regeneration and growth, said: “Airport Business Park Southend is vital to driving opportunity, prosperity and economic growth of both Southend and the wider region. It will create more employment, and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs, business to expand and new ones to invest.

“Its importance to the area should not be underestimated, with £150 million being invested in delivering high-quality space and infrastructure across the business park, building a collaborative ecosystem that acts as a catalyst for growth.

“The Launchpad is just one part of the jigsaw, but as the applicant, the council is delighted to see it approved by Rochford District Council – this new facility will champion innovation and be a hub of activity at this exciting new development.”

The council has worked with BDP architects to design the scheme and will go through a procurement process in 2020 to find an operator for the facility.

Westcliff Rugby Club is scheduled to move into its new home in December, which will enable the Airport Business Park road to be completed.

The club has been planning to move since 2016.

Rochford District Council’s strategic director, Angela Hutchings, said : “This £150m Airport Business Park in Rochford district is a fantastic opportunity for businesses who are now being offered the chance to locate at a site which offers excellent transport links and amenities.”