College agrees deal to sell campus to developer

A college has agreed a deal to sell off its science and technology campus to a developer.

South Gloucestershire & Stroud College (SGS)  has signed a heads of terms agreement for the sale of its Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park at Berkeley to preferred bidder the Chiltern Vital Group (CVG).

Working with Rolls Royce, CVG is planning to create a low-carbon energy ‘super cluster’ at the site.

Chiltern Vital Group is a leading project creator and developer in the zero-carbon energy, digital education and technology sectors, and has an existing project portfolio in excess of £1bn.

Vital Energi, a significant shareholder in CVG, is itself a leading UK player in the zero-carbon energy sector.

Kevin Hamblin, chief executive Officer of SGS College Group, said: “The possible acquisition of SGS Berkeley by this energy consortium would not just be a transaction; it would create a partnership that embodies a mutual commitment to spearheading innovations in nuclear technology.

“This collaboration would be pivotal for SGS College, as it ensures the ongoing role of the college at SGS Berkeley as a key educational partner, providing tailored training and research opportunities in line with the ground-breaking advancements championed by the consortium.

“The sale would mark a significant milestone in the college’s history, promising to create a new era of energy innovation and educational excellence in the region.”

Mark Hawthorne, Vice-Chair of the Western Gateway and Leader of Gloucestershire County Council said: “It’s great to see our vision for a Severn Edge low carbon energy campus at Berkeley and Oldbury moving one step closer with this nuclear innovation opportunity.  The Western Gateway brings together the great business, academia and local leaders we have across South Wales and Western England to build on our potential to unleash world leading innovation and create economic growth.

“We want to see our Severn Edge sites creating new green jobs and skills opportunities for local communities whilst also providing the low carbon energy we need to power our economy.  I look forward to working with the consortium as we continue to make the case for this area to lead a clean energy revolution for the country.”

Chris Turner, chief executive of CVG and Chairman of the Yorkshire Energy Freeport Park said: “We are very honoured to have been selected by SGS College as the preferred bidder to deliver this international advanced zero carbon /nuclear technology park for training, FE & HE education, research and development, and applications testing. The project also represents the first step in the creation of a Severn Edge (Berkeley/Oldbury) zero carbon axis embracing a wide range of advanced technologies, including the potential for deployment of new nuclear generation technology such as SMRs at Oldbury.

“We are pleased that the Western Gateway partnership have acknowledged our proposal as complementary to their work leading the Severn Edge project with the support of landowners and local authorities. This initiative can only serve to attract more high technology inward investment and create a wide range of sustainable, long term, skilled jobs in the region”

Alan Woods – Rolls-Royce SMR strategy and business development director said: “Berkeley has played a varied and important role throughout the history of the UK’s nuclear industry and Rolls-Royce SMR welcomes the intent to redevelop Berkeley Campus as hub for nuclear skills and innovation. This kind of commitment, to building future nuclear skills across all levels of education, will support the roll-out of Rolls-Royce SMRs across the UK and beyond.”

Tom Scott, director of the SW Nuclear Hub added: ‘The announcement of CVG Group’s potential purchase of the Berkeley Science Park site, next to the old Magnox reactor site, is hugely exciting. I truly believe this site is the obvious location for a national campus for nuclear innovation and advanced energy technologies.

“This site was historically a focal point for nuclear research and innovation and I think it is wonderfully cyclical that the next generation of nuclear technology could be developed on the same site. It has all the ingredients necessary to become an internationally leading hub for training, research and innovation which attracts researchers, technologists and developers from around the world, including the development and export of the Rolls-Royce SMR. I would hope this science park also becomes the home for the UK’s first research reactor in a generation – it is certainly needed for both training and research and would provide us with a capability equivalent to our international partners and competitors around the world.”