Pioneering centre to train future engineers

NDA new 200Decommissioned land adjacent to the Berkeley site is set to be transformed into a pioneering further education campus focused on science and engineering.

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College will refurbish a range of historic nuclear facilities. Some of these facilities were once destined for demolition. They will be brought back to life as the centrepiece of the new development.

The land forms part of the old Berkeley Centre research complex. It once carried out work for the UK’s entire nuclear industry. In 2006, following a comprehensive clean-up programme over many years, it became the first plot of land owned by the newly created NDA to secure de-licensing.

The 28-acre site was subsequently dedesignated by the Government in 2010. This enabled the site to be released for further use.

Its development as a science and technology park will mark successful completion of the full decommissioning cycle. The restored site has a new lease of life. One that both reflects its industrial heritage and meets the aspirations of the local community for a technology-related sustainable future.

The NDA’s Property Manager Tony Smithers said:
“This is, essentially, a site restored and mission accomplished.

“We are delighted to see the realisation of the vision of stakeholders. The vision was expressed during consultations about site end states some years ago.

“The potential for using these redundant facilities for educational purposes was not always obvious. We did once draw up plans to demolish the buildings.

“The college’s plans are exciting and ambitious. They support the UK’s drive to excel in science and engineering. They also build on Berkeley’s nuclear history. We look forward to seeing the first students welcomed onto the campus and enjoying their studies.”

The NDA has agreed a long-term lease for half of the 28-acre site after marketing the land for business use from 2006. Other premises on the site are already occupied by a range of businesses.

We expect vocational courses for the first intake of post-16-year-olds to start on site in 2016. By then the major phase of refurbishment will be complete.

The plans will see the cavernous old engineering rig hall as a focal point of the campus. Practical student training will re-use some internal equipment, such as the overhead crane. The façade will have solar panels installed. Other facilities, including a suite of welding workshops, will also be given a facelift to be re-used.

For the college, the opportunity to train future engineers and technicians in a realistic workplace environment is a major benefit.
Recreating such facilities from scratch would have been prohibitively expensive.

The campus will provide a wide-ranging curriculum up to post-doctoral level, including:
•construction
•mechanical
•electrical engineering

Many of the courses will be designed to meet the
specific needs of employers in the region.  The region will be a hub for the UK’s nuclear renaissance as the construction of nearby Hinkley C gains momentum. A further focus will be on sustainable skills and renewable technologies.

The College has secured £12 million of Government funding for the first phase of the anticipated £40 million development.

This includes funds for two specific projects:
•a small-scale renewable energy research centre
•a facility for the delivery of cyber security education and training

Both will be run in collaboration with the University of Gloucestershire.

The College will also invest at least £5 million. A decision is awaited on the College’s application to develop a £14 million University Technical College. This could specialise in training 14-19 year-olds in advanced manufacturing and cyber security skills. Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, GfirstMuch, has supported much of the development work.