Green light for £13.5m Blyth skills centre
Northumberland County Council has signed off on the business case for the Energy Central Campus, part of the area’s Town Deal programme.
The meeting of NCC’s cabinet on Tuesday 12 April rubber-stamped the full business case for the phase one learning hub at the Energy Central Campus, which is due to be delivered by Galliford Try.
Blyth is earmarked as a key focus for green energy: Britishvolt had worked up plans for a £3.8bn gigafactory in the area before collapsing into administration in January. Australian firm Recharge Industries has since taken the company over.
According to a report for the cabinet, since the outline business case for the 26,000 sq ft learning hub was approved in September 2022, final project costs have increased as the works procurement process and tender price has concluded and contract terms agreed.
The ECC is described by the council as a transformational, business-led skills education and innovation development supporting growth in the low carbon energy sector around Blyth.
The town is beneficiary of a £25m funding slug through a Town Deal, which feeds into the wider £70m Energising Blyth town centre investment plan, which includes other elements suxh as a cultural centre.
Specifically, the ECC is made up of two parts: the phase one learning hub (ECLH), which will be a STEM educational and vocational training facility for both young people at school and college, and retraining adults; and the second phase Energy Central Institute, a higher-level skills facility working at degree level.
To be built in the town centre, this campus is a crucial part of plans to drive footfall in Blyth.
A schools foundation has signed up for the ECLH, while two Further Education providers are in negotiations.
The ECC Ltd vehicle to run the centre was set up in autumn, with NCC, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and the Port of Blyth, which owns the freehold of the land for the learning hub, as partners.
Hall and Partners is the quantity surveyor and employer’s agent for the project.