Cambridgeshire, home to world-leading universities and Europe’s largest technology cluster, is one of the UK’s fastest-growing regional economies. The region’s world-renowned research assets and location as a thriving hub for high-tech SMEs, means it is an internationally-recognised destination for business.
According to a recent study by Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, Cambridge’s gross value added (GVA) – a measure of economic output – is growing at twice the rate of powerhouses like Manchester and Leeds, and is expected to hit £9.6bn in 2018.
Although Cambridgeshire is generally prosperous, it is a region of two halves, with large areas where deprivation levels exceed or equal the national average, particularly regarding education, skills and training.
Littleport is a rural community with an estimated population of more than 8800. Although the largest village by size in East Cambridgeshire, increased disparities in household income, education and facilities exist within the village.
Construction and infrastructure company Morgan Sindall has recently delivered a major £37.5m scheme to rejuvenate Littleport’s education and leisure facilities, creating a new community hub in the heart of the town.
The project was part of East Cambridgeshire District Council’s ‘Littleport Masterplan’, a framework designed to boost the town’s identity in the region and create an environment where innovation thrives.
The framework had identified several challenges facing the town’s development, with many of the existing community services in the area close to capacity or over-subscribed.
As a result, it was agreed that investment in richer resources and infrastructure could help to alleviate this emerging problem.
Prior to construction work, Littleport had already benefitted from fairly substantial housing development and the county council was keen to ensure that housing growth in the area was matched by growth in job opportunities for the local population.
In order to support and encourage this employment growth, residents made it clear that they wished to see Littleport repositioned as an area conducive to business, with great access to downtime activities like quality restaurants, retail and leisure, as well as excellent schools.
Littleport’s new education and leisure complex is the result of a joint working partnership between Cambridgeshire County Council and Morgan Sindall and includes new early years provision, a three-storey secondary school, a special educational needs (SEN) school and a community leisure centre.
The new four-form entry secondary school, Littleport and East Cambridge Academy, will initially cater for 600 pupils aged 11 to 16, with the potential to expand up to 750 pupils. The early years facility has been designed to cater for 52 children. The co-located Highfield Littleport Academy SEN school will eventually cater for 110 pupils between the ages of two and 19. Facilities include a hydrotherapy pool for swimming therapy programmes.
The new two-storey Littleport Leisure Centre includes a sports hall, fitness suite, multi-use hall, changing facilities and social area, all of which are available for secondary school and wider community use.
Morgan Sindall’s experienced project team was able to work strategically alongside the council and residents to turn Littleport’s vision into a reality. The construction company was committed to placing the local community at the heart of the development, ensuring that the facilities perfectly matched the town’s needs.
During the construction, Morgan Sindall supported several apprenticeships and trainee placements from the local area, bringing direct benefits to the company, the individuals and the economy.
Bob Ensch, Area Director at Morgan Sindall, said: “As East Anglia becomes an increasingly popular place to live, it’s key that we ensure our towns are sustainable and fitted with the necessary infrastructure and services to support a growing population. This investment will be vital to ensure the continued success of businesses and employment growth in the region.
“Littleport’s transformation is a leading example of community-led regeneration, demonstrating an integrated approach to delivery and aligning sustainable economic growth alongside strategic priorities. Morgan Sindall is extremely proud to have been a part of this journey to deliver much-needed facilities, such as the new Littleport Leisure Centre, which will serve the whole community for years to come.
“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working closely with Cambridgeshire County Council and residents to deliver this outstanding project, which will breathe a new lease of life into Littleport’s education and leisure facilities.”
Alison Revell at Cambridgeshire County Council said: “I have worked on the delivery of the Littleport and East Cambridge Academy since 2011 and saw it as an exciting opportunity for all of those involved in the project. It is the largest construction project delivered by the Education Capital team at Cambridgeshire County Council with the highest value of any education project in the county. It is also the first purpose-built education campus in the county.
“As a first of its kind, it was important to me to bring on board a team in whom I had confidence to perform to the best of their ability. A team that had a record for perfect delivery, had received national recognition in the Considerate Contractor awards and had an outstanding health and safety record.”
Scott Gaskins, Head of School at Littleport and East Cambridge Academy, said: “Littleport’s regeneration has repositioned the town centre as a sustainable and attractive space for both business and community to thrive in Cambridgeshire. The council’s investment to achieve the vision in the masterplan for Littleport is significant, representing a step-change in the development of the town and its future. Morgan Sindall and the project team have created an amazing facility that will provide a wonderful legacy for the town and East Cambridgeshire.”