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Major step forward for new Nuneaton development

A multi-million-pound state-of-the-art digital skills and innovation hub in Nuneaton has taken another step forward.

The board of North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College has given approval to go to the next stage with exciting plans to operate a Digital Skills and Innovation Centre as part of proposals to create a new campus in Abbey Street.

The £8 million funding has been secured from the Government’s Towns Fund and Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council.

The final proposals from Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council and its strategic development partner Queensberry are expected to be discussed by the authority’s planning committee in late summer.

The College’s award-winning fine dining restaurant would be transferred from its present site in Hinckley Road to Abbey Street where, along with a bistro, members of the public will be able to enjoy meals and snacks throughout the day while students put their catering and hospitality skills into practice.

The 1,437 sqm, three-storey building will also focus on providing access to digital skills training and support for the hospitality sector as well as having business facilities for entrepreneurs and those wanting to set-up their own business.

There will also be a shared workspace and exhibition space to showcase training opportunities and meeting and exhibition space for the local community.

Tom Hamilton-Dick, Deputy Principal, Curriculum & Innovation at North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, said this was an amazing opportunity to provide its catering and hospitality students with a state-of-the-art learning experience as well as improve digital skills for students and people in the town.

He said: “Our fine dining restaurant has won multiple national awards for the standard of its teaching and this training restaurant will give diners the chance to see into the kitchens and watch their food being prepared.

“It will provide students with a wonderful chance to learn the skills needed in the catering and hospitality industry in a brand new building as well as having teaching spaces for students.

“The demand for digital skills courses is increasing as more people are working from home or from retailers who want to develop their IT skills as their business has diversified, and this will provide an opportunity to deliver on-site courses since not everyone has access to high-quality technology at home.

“The Centre will also provide space and the facilities to support people with their own micro or small business as well as those who have an idea to set-up a business.

“It is an amazing opportunity for current and future students and is a really good example of collaboration between education and a local authority.”

The Digital Skills and Innovation Centre, which is expected to open in 2024, is part of the wider Abbey Street regeneration scheme which involves creating a hotel, new buildings for leisure operators, a food hall and a multi-storey car-park.

Cllr Kris Wilson, leader of Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, said: “This exciting development is just part of our ambitious plans for a new-look Abbey Street at the heart of a revitalised town centre. This will help ensure that Nuneaton town centre plays its part in ensuring our borough is a great place to live, work and visit. The Digital Skills Centre promises to bring hundreds of people into the town on a regular basis, and will add to the range of activities on offer here. I can’t wait!”

Sean Farnell, Chair of the Nuneaton Town Deal Board and board director at Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), added: “This new town centre campus for North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College would provide a fantastic opportunity to improve the practical and digital skills of students and the wider community.

“This is an important aspect of CWLEP’s Strategic Reset Framework to support the development of upskilling and reskilling to benefit employees and employers.”

Rob Hughes, Senior Development Manager at Queensberry, said: “It’s fantastic to see plans for a new college campus being brought forward. The new campus will be an integral part of the Nuneaton town centre. Education facilities are one of the new uses driving the national regeneration agenda and it’s great that the college will provide a mix of online and digital courses as well as training in catering and hospitality. This will really complement the mix of uses that are being brought to the Abbey Street development.”

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Caption: A CGI of the Digital Skills and Innovation Centre in Nuneaton

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