News story

Happy birthday to the Bus Station

Whitehaven’s iconic creative and digital hub is celebrating two years of collaboration and innovation since first opening its doors in May 2021.

The £8.2m regeneration project has seen the town’s historic former bus station transformed into Cumbria’s flagship digital and creative hub, where business start-ups and entrepreneurs can meet, innovate, and grow.

The project was co-designed with Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC) with funding from Sellafield Ltd and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and in partnership with Copeland Borough Council.

Sellafield Ltd provided £5.7m to the project under our social impact, multiplied (SiX) programme of community investments, which works to leverage public and private sector investment to help diversify and grow the local economy.

At the centre of the development is a Barclays Eagle Lab, one of only 25 Labs nationwide and the first to be built outside of a major city in the North.

Once a disused and derelict shell, the building is now a dynamic collaboration environment featuring co-working spaces, meeting rooms and a shared maker space giving access to equipment such as 3D printers, and laser and vinyl cutting tools.

It’s also home to The Peddler, a 125-seat restaurant that is open to residents and the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serving a variety of locally sourced food and drinks.

In the last two years the Bus Station has hosted 42 businesses and supported over 200 more, from engineering and energy companies to marketing and media start-ups. It gives residents access to expert coaching and mentoring and provides critical links to national industry and academia.

Many have outgrown the space and moved on to bigger premises, proving this unique development is delivering on its shared ambitions and transforming businesses, communities, and lives in the process.

Gary McKeating, Sellafield Ltd’s head of community and development, said:

“The Bus Station is an example of our Sellafield Six programme in action.

“Not only did it regenerate a derelict area of Whitehaven, but we built in an opportunity for local individuals and businesses to start, grow and thrive.

“We invested in growth for our local economy and after 2 years we’re starting to see the real benefits.

“On a personal level and having been involved from the outset, I’m particularly proud of this project that sits within a programme of work that’s making a real difference in West Cumberland.”

Published 26 May 2023