Students from East Sussex College Eastbourne have been developing ideas for the redevelopment of the Bedfordwell Pumphouse site since January as part of a virtual work experience project

. Culture Shift, a Lewes – based arts and education charity, managed the project, with support from Hawes construction, Eleanor Earl, engineer at Ove Arup and Gavin Gregory from Park Lane developers. The project is part of Your Town Engineers, a project designed to encourage students to think about careers in engineering through developing design solutions that improve their local area. The project is funded through the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Ingenious Fund and has benefitted from the insight and support of Eastbourne peer, Lord Lucas, a keen advocate for engineering education.

On 18 May 3 groups of construction students presented their ideas to an online audience which included leader of Eastbourne Council, David Tutt, regeneration lead, Sara Taylor and conservation officer Chris Connelley.

Students presented their ideas flawlessly, each providing imaginative uses for the old iconic pumphouse, explained through carefully developed plans and drawings. Plans included using the building as a gym, sports space and Café, another group proposed the space for evening gigs and daytime markets and the final group conceived a young person run enterprise, with a variety of businesses catering to young people from vintage and upcycling to a café workspace.

They were questioned by the panel on all aspects of their designs confidently addressed issues around the impact on local residents, parking and transport and design aspects of their refurbishment plans.

Matt Roberts, Construction lead at the college reflected that “having industry feedback is very useful for the students and it has definitely helped them develop their design and feasibility ideas.”

Councillor David Tutt, Eastbourne Borough Council reflected after the event, ‘I was delighted to be involved in the Eastbourne Your Town event. The Council is committed to supporting local people in their training and development and has had a number of recent successes, including through the use of local labour agreements in the planning process. With mentoring and guidance from industry experts the students gave professional presentations on possible future uses for a key Eastbourne landmark that would support the recent exciting investments that have been made in our town, including the £64m Devonshire Quarter redevelopment and the £85m investment in the Beacon shopping centre.’

`The Pumphouse is a typically impossible Eastbourne opportunity: how do we make something wonderful out of a lovely building that was designed for something else. The students put energy, imagination and ingenuity into their ideas and have got us all thinking with renewed optimism of what might be. Something tells me they’ve started something good.’ Lord Lucas