Plans submitted for centre of excellence for digital technologies in heart of Cheltenham

University of Gloucester Reynolds Building

Plans submitted for centre of excellence for digital technologies in heart of Cheltenham

Plans for University of Gloucestershire’s exciting new £5.8million digital and cyber hub are now available to view, with the consultation underway.

 The new facilities, designed by Austin-Smith:Lord, will provide students with a learning space that resembles as closely as possible the environments they will experience in real-life scenarios while working in industry.

 With funding from the Office for Students (OfS), the University will create the state-of-the-art teaching and learning space at its Park Campus in Cheltenham. Providing the latest digital and cyber technologies for students, the hub will be a centre of excellence for students, ensuring they graduate with the skills required locally and nationally.

Austin-Smith:Lord was appointed to help develop the University’s brief and provide the design for this hugely exciting project. You can now view the plans on the Cheltenham Borough Council planning portal here.

Representatives from Austin-Smith:Lord, the University and Kier Group – who have been appointed as the main contractor for the project – will also be available to show the plans and answer any questions at a drop-in session on Wednesday, 9 August in the Owen Building at Park Campus, Cheltenham, between 4.30pm and 7pm.

Neil Farquhar, Senior Architect at Austin-Smith:Lord said “Further to completing the highly successful Business School building at the Oxstalls Campus in Gloucester, we are delighted to be working again with colleagues at University of Gloucestershire to deliver the new digital and cyber hub at the Cheltenham Park Campus, providing architecture, landscape and interior design services. The project has great relevance to the developing digital and cyber industries in Cheltenham in particular and seeks to help fill the skills gap across the whole of the country.

The outdated Reynolds building is set to be demolished in Autumn 2023 to make way for the new digital and cyber hub, subject to demolition permission being granted in August. Building work on the new centre is set to start in December 2023, subject to planning permission being granted in October.

A webpage has been set up where regular progress updates will be provided, including any movement on dates, FAQs, and news of any possible disruption to local residents. A quarterly newsletter for local residents is also planned.

The aim is for students studying traditional degrees (BSc/MSc/MEng), higher apprenticeships, professional short courses, Digital Skills Bootcamps, and new Higher Technical Qualifications to move into the new centre in Spring 2025.

The labs in the new centre will provide innovation testbeds for the application of advanced and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data analytics, blockchain, and cyber physical systems. These testbeds will be used as learning spaces for the development, and the delivery, of multi-disciplinary subjects such as HealthTech, EduTech, LegalTech and Bio-Informatics.

University of Gloucestershire Vice-Chancellor, Stephen Marston, said:The redevelopment of the Reynolds Building will provide a new centre of excellence for digital technologies in the heart of Cheltenham, helping to address the UK-wide cyber skills gap by educating the computing and engineering leaders of the future.

“It will also build on the university’s existing links within the burgeoning cyber sector in Cheltenham and the South West, working with these partners to increase the appeal of STEM subjects, with a particular focus on making study and careers in this area more accessible and attractive to women and neurodivergent individuals, and raising aspiration in disadvantaged communities.

“Supporting a key economic priority locally and nationally, this new centre will help forge Cheltenham’s position as a world class hub for cyber and computing. I’d encourage people to come to the drop-in session to find out more, ask any questions and to feed back through the consultation.”