Future skills centre artist's impression
A new vocational skills training centre in Whitehill & Bordon will be taking its first students in spring 2017 after plans and funding were approved last week.

The new building, which will be named the ‘Future Skills Centre’, will offer a variety of vocational training to post-16 students and adults – with an initial focus on construction skills.

Approved by Hampshire County Council’s (HCC) Regulatory Committee on Wednesday 21 October, the centre is part of the wider plans to regenerate Whitehill & Bordon with 3,350 new homes, 5,500 new jobs, a thriving new town centre and new facilities.

It will be built at Louisburg Barracks, at the north of the town, which is owned by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

The training provided at the new centre will equip the local community with valuable skills to support and create construction jobs for local young people and adults.

The £4 million centre is largely funded through a grant from the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) which was sought by the HCA to ensure that Louisburg Barracks provides the much needed training and jobs as well as housing for the local community.

The scheme is now being taken forward by HCC which has also put £250,000 towards the scheme.

The redevelopment of Louisburg Barracks will also see a business and enterprise centre at Broxhead House, the former sergeants’ mess, providing office space and training rooms and creating more than 200 jobs.

Cllr Nick Drew, East Hampshire District Council’s (EHDC) Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, said: “This is fantastic news for Whitehill & Bordon residents. The future skills centre will be a great help for people looking for work – especially in the construction industry.

“Students will learn about brickwork, carpentry, electrical work and plumbing, and the centre will also be used to support EHDC’s successful apprenticeship programme.

“EHDC is committed to becoming one the most business-friendly councils in the country. If we are to achieve that aim we must equip residents with the skills they need to take advantage of the jobs which will become available as Whitehill & Bordon is regenerated.”

Kelly Hillman, Senior Area Manager at the HCA, said: “The future skills centre will give local people the tools they need to develop their own careers.

“I am delighted Hampshire County Council has given its approval for the scheme to go ahead. This project marks a real step forward in our efforts to improve Whitehill & Bordon’s residents’ quality of life.

“I am looking forward to seeing the first students taking up their places in 2017.”

Councillor Roy Perry, Leader of Hampshire County Council, said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners, who include East Hampshire District Council and the Enterprise M3 LEP, to create this flagship facility for Whitehill & Bordon.

“The new centre will help to ensure young people in the local community, and the surrounding area, have the opportunity to train and develop the skills necessary to take full take advantage of the jobs that will be created by the regeneration of Whitehill & Bordon.”

Geoff French CBE, Chairman of the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The future skills centre will play a key role in the regeneration of Whitehill & Bordon as the demand for a skilled work force grows over the coming years.

“This is a significant investment in the future of the town and it is one from which the residents themselves will benefit hugely.

“In order to create a prosperous and vibrant economy you must have a skilled and dynamic workforce and this centre will help provide that.

“This fantastic facility will be a building block in the development of Whitehill & Bordon’s growing economy.”