Green light for new college digital skills and innovation centre

The launch of a Digital Skills and Innovation Centre and training restaurant for North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College in Nuneaton town centre has taken a step closer after planning approval was granted by Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council at its meeting on 17 January 2023.

The new facility, subject to NWSLC board approval, will be built within the former Co-op building in Abbey Street with an £8M investment from the government’s Towns Fund. Plans for the additional campus are being developed in liaison with Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, the My Town Nuneaton Board, Warwickshire County Council and the Transforming Nuneaton project.

It is anticipated that the new state-of-the-art centre, due to open in 2024, will help to regenerate skills and careers opportunities in the town, enable access to digital skills training, and provide an incubation space for business start-ups. It will also support the hospitality sector through a training kitchen serving a restaurant and café that will be open to the public. The facility is expected to serve over 2,600 students over the next ten years, supporting 290 business start-ups and delivering value to the economy worth £13.4M.

Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Principal and Chief Executive of NWSLC said, “It is our aim to contribute to the growth of the town and boost opportunities for people to gain new skills that pave the way for exciting careers. The demand for digital skills is increasing and this centre will provide an opportunity to deliver on-site training to address a wide range of practical applications.

“Our college restaurant has won multiple national awards for the standard of its teaching and this facility 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 environment with dedicated teaching spaces.

“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.”

Cllr Clare Golby, deputy leader of Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council said, “We are striving to help make Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough a great place to live, work and visit. This development is an exciting element within the overall Abbey Street site, and the welcome presence of the college and its students will have a significant impact on the growth of Nuneaton town centre, its liveliness and on the variety of people who come here. This planning approval marks an important milestone on the road to bringing new life to our town and the wider borough.”

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.

Marion Plant added, “We are committed to supporting the flourishing of our local community and look forward to building on our plans to deliver work-based training and apprenticeships in the heart of the town centre, increasing footfall, reducing unemployment, and supporting the development of thriving new enterprises.”