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Awards 2023

Construction to start on £4m Whitehaven digital hub

Transformation of the former Whittles department store is slated to begin in the summer.

Social impact property developers, Building Extraordinary Communities has also confirmed NORR as architects, and Summers Inman as the project management consultants.

Up to £4m in funding for the town centre project has been secured from Sellafield, BT, and BEC themselves. The development is expected to be completed next year.

The digital and gaming hub will include a digital recording studio, cafe, esports, VR area, and green screens that will be supported by several local partners in the former furniture store building on Duke Street.

Michael Pemberton, BEC chief executive, said: “This project to transform the former Whittles department store is of great importance to BEC and our local community.

“I have every faith that the knowledge, resource, and expertise NORR and Summers Inman bring to the table will enable a smooth, efficient, and well-executed scheme alongside our talented in-house team at BEC.”

Robin Stewart, architect and director at NORR, said: “Redeveloping this listed building is another vital step in sustainably revitalising important local buildings to benefit the Whitehaven community.

“Following the successful transformation of the bus station, we are delighted to continue our collaboration with BEC and Summers Inman to design and deliver the digital and gaming hub.

“This is a tremendously exciting project that will not only act as a social hub for young people in the area, but also to act as a catalyst for digital, gaming and training sectors and offer potential new career paths and opportunities.”

John Harvey, associate director at Summers Inman, added: “Working with the full BEC delivery team and our fellow design consultants, the hub will provide essential training and upskilling to encourage the development of future digital and tech leaders

“Summers Inman continue to provide project management, cost consultancy and principal designer duties and cement the great working relationship we have with BEC, gained through previous projects and we definitely want to be part of the ambitious and exciting plans for the future of Whitehaven and Cumbria.”

Also on the project team, Expedite Design Services put together the change of use application, while Lewis Surveying Associates has handled the heritage impact assessment.

To view the plans, search for reference number 4/21/2365/OF1, on Cumberland Council’s planning portal.

Construction to start on £4m Whitehaven digital hub - Place North West