Albion Square is a brand new 3 million office development in Whitehaven's town centre. Britain's energy coast in partnership with Nuclear management partners - the owners of Sellafield Ltd have provided more than £3 million worth of funding for this brand new office development. The building is a very large steel structure and is a major commercial office development in the heart of the town centre. The building has been tasked with moving over 1500 office workers from Sellafield Ltd, a local nuclear power plant about 1 hour from Whitehaven's town centre.
Most of Whitehaven's people have welcomed the move as it will boost the towns economy. Most residents see the move as a positive development because the workers will be eating and shopping within the town with thousands more pounds being spent.
The 2 sites which are separated by a road were used for many things over the years. The main part of the land was used as a scrapyard known as Peter Hanratty Ltd. On the corner of the scrapyard was a pub known as 'The Dusty Miller'. The initial plans included the pub but later on the pub closed and the land was purchased by Sellafield Ltd to make way for a disabled car park. Many people were against the demolition of The Dusty Miller sparking Facebook campaigns and petitions however the pub was later demolished. On the land adjacent to the scrap yard was a garage and old buildings which had been delapedated for many years.
Sellafields Office staff have now been moved into Whitehaven because of a wide review of Sellafields security arrangements and to make a more vibrant local economy in the town. THe buildings have settled well and have transformed this area of the town.
An outline of the developments
Almost £3m of funding from Britain’s Energy Coast made in partnership with Nuclear Management Partners, has helped to pave the way for this major commercial office development in the heart of Whitehaven town centre by covering the costs of land purchase and site remediation. Once completed in 2014 around 1,000 workers will move to Albion Square from the Sellafield site.
BEC provided £2.9m for land assembly and site remediation, as well as a further £2.44m in gap funding – all provided through socio-economic funding from Nuclear Management Partners. It allowed construction to begin on the complex – which consists of two four-storey office buildings totalling 100,000 sq ft – in April 2013. The office is sited in a prominent location on Swingpump Lane in the heart of Whitehaven’s Georgian town centre. It is a key project contained within the West Cumbria Economic Blueprint.
The move is part of a wider review of security arrangements at the Sellafield site and also means that Whitehaven businesses will have the opportunity to serve a significant influx of people on a daily basis making for a more vibrant local economy in the town.
NDA Properties Ltd (the properties arm of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) is providing the £15m for the office and is also acting as developer for Albion Square. Copeland Borough Council and Sellafield Limited are also key partners in the planning and delivery of the scheme. Morgan Sindall is responsible for construction work while the development is being project managed by Deloitte Real Estate on behalf of NDA Properties Ltd.
Albion Square: what do you think?
The iconic Albion Square Development which has seen a dilapidated site revived has been completed and the keys have been handed over to the new ownders - Sellafield Ltd. The joint project by the Nuclear Decommisioning Authority, Copeland Borough Council and Sellafield Ltd has now been handed over to Sellafield Ltd and workers will be moving into the building in the coming weeks, by October the building will have 1000 office workers working inside who will have relocated from Sellafield Nuclear Power Plant in their bid to step up security and move all non essential staff off site. It is also in a move to reduce congestion to the plant and regenerate towns.
The NDA’s spokesman Brian Hough said: “It was felt by ourselves and Copeland Council that Albion Square needs to be in the town centre due to the massive boost it will give to Whitehaven. Some might say that the building looks out of place, but this won’t be the case when you consider all the other regeneration work is happening, providing a link between the harbourside and the town; The Beacon, the Whitehaven Foyer and the Townscape Heritage Initiative to revamp the Market Place area.”
Visit-Whitehaven spoke to a few people on their opinions of the new building:
Elaine Woodburn, (now ex) leader of Copeland Borough Council said: "The Council always had the ambition to encourage town centre developments and Albion Square was always going to be the first site we would endeavour to seek developers for, why? Because out of all the options presented it was the most complex and challenging of the sites and the thought was "if we can succeed here we can succeed anywhere else in Whitehaven". As a Council we have no control over rents or business rates in the town centre but what we could do was look to increase the number of people within the town centre, they in turn would utilise the local businesses and spend overall would increase. We are already seeing this happen with the 100 plus staff who have relocated into The Copeland Centre.
You would struggle to find town centres the size of Whitehaven who are having a £25million investment and this alongside the Whitehaven Foyer and other improvements will make this part of town very attractive. The businesses in the town centre have been a fantastic support and worked alongside ourselves and Sellafield to ensure the workers know what Whitehaven has to offer.
It took a lot of hard work, cajoling and sometimes gentle persuasion for this development to be built. We know there will be teething troubles such as the traffic, others would be fighting for this investment but we got it and I’m proud of the role the Council played and very proud of the building itself.
It is an asset and will bring income into the town centre a win win for all."
Lee Butterworth, Owner of Xtreme Fitness Gym said:
"It is a Massive boost for the town with over 1000 full time staff. It will be a big boost for restaurants and takeaways. People may complain because they have a staff canteen but they won't eat there everyday - bringing income to the town"
Charley Maudling, Chairman of the Whitehaven Chamber of Trade and councillor for Harbour Ward on Whitehaven Town Council and Copeland Bourgh Council said:
"I think the building has made a great deal of difference to that end of town. A modern building on the entrance to town has really made a huge difference, that area is now is looking so good, there are buildings, pavements and road, a remarkable difference to what was an ugly area. On top of that 1600 workforce by xmas, thats how many we never saw as traders monday to friday before and probably at weekends so 1600 will know what business we have in the town we at chamber of trade would like to thank BNFL for the building and bringing the workforce into town. We hope their investment in the building and workforce will attract new ventures into our town."
William Kirkbride, Owner of Temtations - a local business said:
"I find the whole venture first class. I want my town brought into the 21st century".