An official ceremony to mark the start of construction of the new Campus Whitehaven took place on site today. The event brought together representatives from the organisations behind the project, main contractor Wates Construction, and most importantly students from the two schools set to be transformed by the campus project.
Preparatory works to clear the site have now been completed, including the installation of haul roads, site hoardings and environmental protection measures. Wates commenced main construction works on 8 May with the foundations being laid to make way for the building’s 700-tonne steel frame, which is now under construction.
Throughout the project, Wates has pledged to engage local supply chain partners, a commitment that has so far seen the contractor spend £7m with local suppliers and sub-contractors.
The new campus is scheduled to open its doors to students in September 2018.
Wates worked with parents, students and the wider community on the design and layout of the new schools and sports facilities. The final designs will maximise the educational and broader health and well-being benefits of the new campus approach.
The unprecedented £30million investment in the campus comes from a range of partners including The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield Ltd, Copeland Borough Council, Copeland Community Fund, and Cumbria County Council.
The campus will include new state of the art facilities for St Benedict’s Catholic High School and Mayfield Special School and bring them together on the current St Benedict’s site replacing the buildings, radically improving the teaching and learning environment and creating the potential for boosting students’ aspiration and attainment.
As part of an approach, aimed at improving the whole community’s health and well-being as well as education, the project includes new, community accessible, sports provision on the campus site.
Overall the project is about investing in the future of West Cumbria, ensuring that there is the knowledge, skills and good health in the community to get the most from the opportunities presented by the anticipated growth of the nuclear and renewables industry.
Paul Vallance, the NDA’s Director of Communication & Stakeholder Relations, said:
“This is a hugely significant moment for the area.
“Campus Whitehaven will help the community take its future into its own hands by providing an inspirational learning environment for young people, helping them to take advantage of employment opportunities.
“It will also be an important asset for the whole community, offering access to top-class sports facilities and lifelong learning with potential to improve the lives of thousands of local people.
“I would like to say a massive thanks for the hard work of the many people have contributed to this project so far, and look forward to seeing the Campus grow to completion in the coming months.”
Tony Shenton, Business Unit Director, Wates Construction North West, said:
“By consulting closely with our clients and the wider community, we have developed a comprehensive understanding of their hopes and aspirations, as well as those of parents and students, for the new Campus Whitehaven. We have an excellent team in place and are now well underway with the next step in creating this state-of-the-art centre for learning and sport.
“Wates’ growing presence in Cumbria over the past year has seen us bring to the region our industry expertise, as well as our commitment to using a local supply chain, both of which will make Campus Whitehaven a significant success for all involved.”
Willie Slavin, Chair of Governors, said:
"This formal groundbreaking ceremony is the culmination of several years commitment and planning. The governors of the school are delighted to see the realisation of this exciting project. The re-build of St Benedict's school and co-location with our friends and colleagues at Mayfieid school is a clear demonstration of our positive futures."
For the Catholic Diocese of Lancaster and Chair of the Lancaster Diocesan Trustees, Bishop Michael Campbell OSA, said:
“The Lancaster Diocesan Trustees and I are delighted that the Diocese is part of this exciting initiative investing in our young people - central to and developing upon our vision for the formation of the whole person with the best possible facilities to assist this .”Gillian Temple, Head teacher of Mayfield School, said:
“This event marks a significant step towards the provision of our new schools. We are very excited to see the plans becoming a reality. Wates have been proactive in enabling all of our pupils to visit the site.
We are looking forward to the new and innovative learning opportunities which will be realised through the Campus project and the positive impact that it will have on the whole Community.
Cllr David Southward, Cumbria County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said:
“This is a moment to celebrate, we’re now seeing the bricks and mortar realisation of what was once just an idea. There’s been a huge amount of work by all the partners to get to this point and it’s genuinely exciting to think about this Campus will do for local young people and the area as a whole. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the build take shape!”
Mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie, said:
“I’m proud to help mark this exciting milestone in a state-of-the-art project that will be transformational for the lives of so many young people in our community for generations to come.
“Myself, Copeland Council, and the whole community are excited by this project and looking forward to the development of a world-class environment of teaching, development and growth, with enhanced sporting facilities for all to enjoy”
David Moore, Chair of Copeland Community Fund Board, said:
“The Fund is delighted to see such visible progress towards the achievement of a new Campus. Through our £3m investment, our focus as a Fund is on the provision of new, accessible, community sports facilities on the campus site.”