A PIONEERING project to transform a derelict town centre building into a digital and gaming hub has appointed key partners to begin the programme of redevelopment.

Set to open in summer 2025, the digital and gaming hub will include a digital recording studio, café, e-sports and virtual reality area and green screens that will be supported by several local partners in the former furniture store building on Duke Street in Whitehaven’s town centre.

Social impact property developers, BEC, has announced NORR as the architects and Summers Inman as the project management consultants.

BEC’s chief executive, Michael Pemberton, said: “It’s with great pleasure we announce the appointment of NORR and Summers Inman respectively to the digital and gaming hub project in Whitehaven. BEC has a well-established relationship with both companies, and they have a track record of delivering for us.

“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.

"An exciting journey and programme are ahead.”

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.”

These two appointments come following £4 million of funding recently being secured from Sellafield, BT and BEC themselves.

John Harvey, associate director at Summers Inman, added: “Summers Inman are delighted to be part of the team delivering a Digital and Gaming Hub within a Grade II listed building in the heart of Whitehaven’s town centre.

"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.”

BEC has said construction will start in summer later this year.