A GROUNDBREAKING engineering college campus has opened in Berkeley on the site of former nuclear laboratories.

Located in Berkeley Green the technical college will feature courses in engineering, construction, plumbing, electronics, energy efficiency, low carbon energy and many more, and was kickstarted by a £5million grant from GFirst LEP.

The new campus is a collaboration between South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS), the University of Gloucestershire and the GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership.

The Gloucestershire Renewable Energy Engineering and Nuclear (GREEN) skills centre will provide education for students aged 14-18 from September 2017.

Kevin Hamblin, Principal of SGS college, said: “What I want is to create opportunities for the second chancers – not just the academic high fliers.

“We don’t want to be a sausage machine of identical qualifications but to provide additional and employable skills, it’s about the individuals.

“Much like a football academy for aspiring footballers, it’s a place we can invite companies and businesses to and they can see the brightest minds in the industry.

“This isn’t just about Berkeley or Stroud District, it’s about everyone in Gloucestershire, there are 72 secondary schools and they fall short of the national provision when it comes to engineering.

“It’s important now more than ever that we work together, and this shows what we can achieve when we work together.”

The college will host 600 pupils and up to 75 staff, it sits within the 50-acre technology park, with the centre being very much step one in more expansive plan for the site, for which they have secured a 999-year lease.

At a total build cost of £6.63million, SGS also purchased the lands surrounding the new centre, known as Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park, triggering the investment of £20million for further development, such as the cyber security and digital technologies centre which is already under construction.

As SGS college’s sixth campus, the Berkeley site will host what principal Kevin Hamblin calls a GCSE-plus model, with pupils studying the regular curriculum with extended school hours for further enrichment focussed on engineering and other STEM classes.

He encourages students from age 14 to make an early commitment to a career in the trade.

The current site was always known as D24, but the new centre will be called the John Huggett Engineering Hall after the long standing chair of governors at SGS college, for his enduring commitment to both young people and engineering.

Stroud MP, Neil Carmichael, said: “It’s a fabulous achievement, it’s emblematic of my passion for increased investment in the manufacturing industry.

“It’s of paramount importance to thing big and be visionary.”

He stated that the next step would be to build an infrastructure around the campus, which would be aided by building the Sharpness to Lydney bridge.

Roger Newman worked on the site for 20 years, starting in 1971 during it’s heyday as a world-renowned research facility, he said: “It’s great to see it put to good use, otherwise it would have been demolished, now it can serve future generations.”