The former Whittles furniture store in Whitehaven, UK, is set to be redeveloped into a digital and gaming hub for the community. 

The project has received £2.8m ($3.55m) in funding from Sellafield’s Social Impact Multiplied programme, along with £800,000 from BT and £485,000 from BEC. 

Sellafield community and development head Gary McKeating said: “This approach demonstrates how we are driving additional social value with our supply chain partners and is consistent with the social value approach of Sellafield and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.  

“The hub will be another great asset for West Cumberland and complements and enhances the range of other investments we’re making in the region.” 

BEC, which acquired the site in 2021, will manage the Grade II Listed building after thorough consultations with residents, industry stakeholders, and academic institutions.  

Upon completion, the four-storey building will feature a digital recording studio, green screen facilities, a café, e-sports and VR zones, and a rooftop terrace.  

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BEC CEO Michael Pemberton said: “This is a remarkable and game-changing development, a true one-of-a-kind for West Cumberland and our young people. The scheme will help address the digital skills gap, providing valuable training, upskilling and industry connections that will open the doors to exciting opportunities in the digital and creative sectors. 

“We’re delighted to bring the iconic building back into use for the community; restoring the exterior to its former glory and transforming the interior into a fully accessible, safe, social space for everyone.” 

The project’s construction phase is scheduled to commence in mid-2024, with completion expected by late 2025.