Ambitious plans to transform an eyesore town centre building have been revealed.

Michael Pemberton, chief executive of BEC, has shared his exciting vision for the former Whittles furniture store on Duke Street in Whitehaven.

The derelict building has now been snapped up by BEC – with the sale completing last week.

Speaking exclusively to The Whitehaven News, Mr Pemberton has revealed plans to create a place where young people can gain skills in computer coding and augmented reality.

The scheme would also include a space where young people can “chill out” and test the computer games being created.

Mr Pemberton said: “The vision for Whittles is around new skills, particularly for young people who have a love and a lust for computer gaming, coding and augmented reality.

“We’re working with one company that specialises in this area and giving skills to young people who have an interest in it, to go on and be able to write their own games, to understand how to code and use augmented reality in being able to do planning and design.

“The aspiration is to create an environment not too dissimilar to the Bus Station. A really cool place to be where you will get a lot of different thoughts and skills.

“The idea will be that on the ground floor, we will produce something that is more geared for young people but not fuelled by alcohol.

“It would still look like a really cool bar with big screens, young people playing computer games, that are coming from upstairs and you’re testing them downstairs.

“It’s just geared around providing an environment for young people to thrive and chill out. There’s a load of energy in the place because of what’s happening in the floors above.”

Mr Pemberton said that it would create an opportunity for young people to “move away from the normal route of Sellafield” and “do other things”.

“There are young people in West Cumbria who are really good at coding but they don’t have a platform to be able to show how good they are,” he explained.

“Imagine working with an industry-class leader to help them develop those skills and maybe bring their gaming to the market.

“You’ll have a young person who has a real passion for gaming. The idea would be we would be able to work with that interest and try and bring out of that person the skill required to make your own games.”

Mr Pemberton said the ambitious project would follow on from the £8.2million Bus Station development, which opened in the town last month.

“We think it should be linked to the Bus Station. Once you’ve perfected your skills there, wouldn’t it be great if you were then able to take an office at the Bus Station and get support from Barclays Eagle Labs.”

A planning application is due to be lodged with Copeland Council shortly.

A wrap around will soon be placed around the former Whittles building and it is hoped that works can begin in September.

BEC is a public-private partnership consisting of Nuclear Management Partners, Sellafield Ltd and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, local authorities (Allerdale Council, Copeland Council and Cumbria County Council) as well as independent members from the private sector.

The partnership describes itself as “property developers with a difference”, which renovate buildings, look for projects in the community, or help to regenerate an entire town, with sustainable building and a low carbon agenda.