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Gloucestershire Business News

VIDEO: Multi-million pound spend collars new Gloucestershire college

Work has begun on a multi-million pound project to build a major specialist college in Gloucestershire.

Contractors Willmott Dixon has already started work on the 3,000 square metre building, which will house an IT suite, lecture theatre, classrooms, fitness centre and - yes, really - weapons training area.

And that is because the new college development is the police academy announced by Martin Surl, the police and crime commissioner. 

Mr Surl is driving the project at the former British Nuclear Power site at Berkeley, already home to SGS College's engineering technology college and cyber security specialists UC Berkeley.

Read more: Punchline Podcast: The Inside Line with Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl 

"It has cost us £600,000 for the building, which includes the 250 parking spaces, access to the canteen and the football pitches. It will cost a £6 million sum to get the space ready," said Mr Surle, who added it was estimated if the project had begun life as a new-build it would cost in the region of £9 million.

It is understood the the new building will be called Sabrina, after the mythical goddess of the River Severn.

 Jon Stratford, deputy chief constable, said: "There is clearly a need for the constabulary to recruit more staff to address the very pressing demands that we are facing.

"Training is key for the operational activity that our staff engage in and it is important that we provide the right facilities and environment to fully prepare people for the future demands of their roles.

"The Berkeley training centre will provide a modern, purpose built resource for this to happen."

Paul Rice, site manager for Willmott Dixon UK, said: "We started work on September 16 and it will be running for 31 weeks through to April 20th 2020. We have around 12 people on site currently, and that will rise to 60 to 80 when we are fully up and running."

Currently the contractor is stripping out the skin of the old building in readiness for a structural check and re-fit.

This will result in a lecture theatre for 160, the obligatory wi-fi and six classroom, library, IT suite and an area for offices to practise using their Tasers.

"We are due to open in May next year. It is a fantastic timing - part luck and part judgement - that it coincides with the Governments plans to recruit an extra 20,000 offices. We will be able to help train those officers.

David Owen, chief executive of GFirst LEP, said: "The really positive move by the constabulary to develop a police academy on the site is fantastic news and adds to the already vibrant mix of businesses and education at Berkeley."

Read more: Punchline Podcast: The Inside Line with Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl 

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