The South Fens Business Centre is a new facility.  Purpose built with a funding package of 3 million pounds.  The building is attractive with aluminium framed windows and wood cladding to part of the structure.  It sits nicely in the surrounding countryside.  Situated close to Cambridge next to the A142 Chatteris bypass, the business centre provides economically priced office space for firms keen to be near Cambridge.  It is also hoped it will attract new business and employment to this rural area.

The interior of the building is immaculate and thoughtfully designed. There are 45 small business units ranging from 17 to 76 square metres.  Visitors to the individual companies are greeted in a large attractive reception area. 

Officially opened in September 2005, this new facility is already proving popular. Nineteen of the units are already occupied and several more are just waiting for leases to be signed.  The centre also has conference rooms for hire, these can accommodate from 10 people up to the largest facility which seats 45.  There is a pleasing open area on the 1st floor for those attending meetings to relax, have coffee and discuss the day.  The popularity of these facilities is proof that the South Fens Business Centre is addressing a real need in the area.

"I thought Net2 was the right system for the job at the right price"

An access control system was part of the specification for the building.  Integrated Fire and Security Systems of Peterborough were approached by the contractors to specify a system.  Karl Grundy, Systems Manager of IFS explains:  "We were given a brief which required an access control system to control 55 doors.  The system had to be capable of restricting access to each office suite to employees of the individual company, while allowing all tenants access to the open areas."  Karl automatically thought of Net2 as being suitable for the project.  Net2 is a PC based system manufactured by Paxton Access Ltd.  Karl quoted for the system and provided demonstration versions of the software, samples of the door readers and access tokens.  Karl says, "I thought Net2 was the right system for the job at the right price.  The client obviously did too as they instructed me to go ahead with the project!"

The centre is run by the Business Manager Olu Smith.  I asked Olu how he found the Net2 software to use and manage.  He replied,  "I picked it up very quickly.  It is very easy and it helps us run efficiently."

"User's permissions only allow them into their own office suite"

He explains how they implement the system.  "Reception is open from 9am to 5pm.  In this time the main door is set to be unlocked.  The doors to the corridors on both the ground and 1st floors, which lead to the individual units, are protected by the access control system.  Flush proximity readers are used to gain access to the corridors.  Permissions are set up in the Net2 software and when we issue cards they only allow the users access into the corridor where their own offices are.  Likewise once in the corridors the individual office suites are again protected by proximity readers, each user's permissions only allow them into their own office suite."

"The time zone and access level features in the software are very useful.  Our client's business activities are diverse, so the times they need to have access to the building and their areas varies. 

We have a couple of businesses that deal worldwide; they have access to their areas 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  They gain access through the main reception door (this automatically locks at 5pm) by presenting their card to the vandal resistant metal reader on the outside of the door. 

Other companies have more standard requirements, for example, 9am to 5pm or 8am to 6pm.  Whatever access is required for their business needs, I can set it up in the software.  Some of our clients like to be able to check who has been into their suites, I can help them with this by just running a simple report from the software."

"Whatever access is required for their business, I can set it up in the software"

The main issue for the centre is to restrict access to the business suites, without causing inconvenience to the clients.  To make life easy IFS have fitted PIR's on the inside of all the corridors and offices being controlled.  The doors automatically unlock when someone approaches.  This makes leaving the offices and corridors very convenient with no need to press exit buttons.

The Net2 system is also linked to the fire doors in the building.  If an alarm occurs, the doors automatically unlock to allow swift evacuation of the building. 

The tenants also really like the access control system.  Olu says, "We are very lucky that we are in an area of very low crime.  However, our clients like the fact that their individual areas are restricted to their staff only.  It gives them complete assurance that they and their assets are secure.   In fact I would say that the access system has been a good selling point for our business suites."

"The access system has been a good selling point for our business suites"

Would Olu recommend the Net2 system to similar operations? "Without question, it is great."

South Fens Business Centre is a modern building that offers high quality accommodation and facilities to small business.  With such a high take up already on both the business suites and the conference facilities it is bound to be a success and an asset to the area.

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