Go ahead will be given next week for a £4m ‘net zero training centre’ at the College of West Anglia (COWA) in Wisbech.
It’s a slimmed down version of a much larger £10m centre that was originally proposed but this failed to attract funding following a bid put forward by Fenland District Council under the most recent government levelling up funding.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) business board has recommended approval of a £2m grant towards the centre that will see existing workshops modernised to house it.
COWA will chip in £200,000 and the Anglian Water Alliance has pledged a further £2m to deliver “all original outputs relating to modern ‘green’ skills”
Any cost overrun will be borne by COWA.
The centre will be built in the same location as the original proposal, i.e., on land owned by COWA, and will be ready to open in September 2025, subject to signing off the funding requirements.
The centre will provide 1,155m2 training space, two permanent jobs by 2025, and 30 indirect jobs supporting the training centre and students within 20 years.
The aim is to attract 900 apprentices/students within 20 years.
CAPCA had originally offered the same £2m towards the earlier, more ambitious scheme, but a report to the board next week reminds members the application for levelling up funding failed.
The college decided to look at other options and confirmed to CAPCA “they have now confirmed they have secured the additional funding from a private sector source to fully support the delivery of the project”.
CWA works in partnership with Anglian Water to offer a level two construction and level three engineering course at the Wisbech campus, providing the skills and knowledge to make students work-ready.
Anglia Water is a massive supporter of COWA and helps to provide hands-on learning and real site experience whilst learning alongside experienced employees from Anglian Water and their partner companies.
Students have the opportunity to try the career, while studying, and are guaranteed a job interview with Anglian Water and their partner companies once they have completed their studies
The new net zero centre, says a report to CAPCA, will be built sustainably. It will use renewable techniques and monitoring devices “so that data could be used within the curriculum of the courses offered.
“This would really set the standard for the building use and help COWA achieve their sustainability strategy (approved by the COWA Board earlier this year).
“COWA plan to use air source heating, rainwater harvesting and to install a solar pv array on the roof linked to a battery system where the power produced can be utilised and stored before any excess goes back into the grid.
“It is also proposed to insulate the building at a 10% increase to the building regulations minimum standard, making it highly energy efficient.
“COWA have not opted to go down the modular building route due to the overall quality and form of space, preferring an industrial feel, with some workshops double height in space, in order to fly drones, undertake installation tasks of renewables (i.e., solar panels to roof mock ups) and to be able to safely operate forklifts and other vehicles / equipment”.
CAPCA says the centre delivers against several strategic ambitions and enables Wisbech to offer Green Skills to students who would otherwise have to travel to other colleges, given the issues with transport in the Fenland area.
“This is a key driver to increasing participation in further education” says the report.
The new facility will also enable local residents to take part in further education opportunities.
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