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Friday, 31 October 2014

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£2m Cumbrian student campus ready for business

The £2 million transformation of a residential campus has been unveiled as it opens as a student residence.

Summergrove photo
The bar lounge area

Summergrove Halls, a former Sellafield training centre which was mothballed in 2012, now provides 131 ensuite rooms for those studying with the region’s universities and training providers.

And members of the community witnessed first-hand the changes at the Hensingham campus, after being invited by bosses to take a look around.

Three of the accommodation halls have been named after a famous scientist or engineer with close connections to west Cumbria. Facilities include a fully equipped fitness studio, laundry, a bar lounge and on-site catering.

Summergrove Halls is part of Britain’s Energy Coast Campus, a consortium of the education and training providers set up by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the University of Cumbria in 2009.

Mike Smith, Summergrove Halls chairman, said: “The universities, colleges and training providers that are working in Britain’s Energy Coast have been telling us for a long time that there is a real need for specialist accommodation.

“It has taken a while to bring Summergrove Halls on stream but it is now a great product and it’s fantastic to see it open for business.”

The £2.2m refurbishment project has been made possible thanks to the support of the NDA which has provided a long lease on the site and a £1.6m grant from Britain’s Energy Coast, drawing on funding from the NDA (£1.08m) and Sellafield Ltd (£520,000).

The final stage of the project will see work start on a footpath linking the halls to Westlakes Science and Technology Park, at Moor Row, providing access to the academic and research institutions based on what has become a hub for west Cumbria’s nuclear sector.

Steve Szostak, chief executive of Britain’s Energy Coast, said: “You cannot help but be impressed by the high quality of the accommodation and facilities at Summergrove Halls. It will be the perfect home for those coming to west Cumbria to learn at our growing network of world-class educational facilities.

“Funding from BEC and our partners the NDA and Sellafield Ltd demonstrates a significant investment in the futures of those who will, in turn, help build a brighter and more prosperous future for the region.”

Summergrove Halls is named after the Georgian mansion which formerly stood on the site. With records dating back to before 1760 the house was considered to be the best Georgian residence in the county before falling into disrepair and eventually being demolished, although some of the original features such as the sandstone entrance gates still remain.

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