News

New college to ‘Open by 2020’

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A PLAN to build a brand new Southern Regional College (SRC) campus in Banbridge has been granted full planning permission.

This paves the way for construction to start on the state-of-the-art educational facility on the Castlewellan Road.

Plans to develop the new college on the current site are part of a £95 million joint investment by both SRC and the Department of the Economy aimed at dramatically improving local educational learning provision and facilities across the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon area.

Further major investments are planned for Armagh and Craigavon colleges which are also set to benefit from the multi-million-pound educational investment. 

The college is due to open by 2020 and will incorporate new learning facilities, including a dedicated learning resource centre, innovation hubs, integrated student social areas and a high-quality dining provision.

The building will feature around 4,500m2 of specialist accommodation. With changes to the curriculum, the new campus is also set to become a specialist centre for digital media and design.

The college will continue to operate as normal as the new building will be constructed elsewhere on the site. The existing football pitch and tennis courts will also remain open.

 In addition, the new build will feature a 'design centre' where students can experience a real working environment, taking on industrial design briefs and projects which reflect modern and best practice.

 SRC chief executive, Brian Doran, said: "Our promise is to invest £95 million across the entire area to deliver educational facilities and provision which befits the needs and expectations of a new generation of young people, their parents and the wider community and to meet a critical requirement to support local business and industry within the wider economy. 

“I'm delighted that Banbridge will benefit from this commitment. Now we can look forward to beginning the construction process that will open the door to a fantastic building with state-of-the-art facilities that will give our young people the best possible learning environment. 

“This is a key milestone for our estates project and a really positive statement of our intent to build a legacy for future generations of students with the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon areas. 

“The new college development presents a truly transformational opportunity for the area and will enable us to further build on our strong presence in, and contribution to, the area and the region at large." 

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, said: "The decision supports the council's robust yet flexible planning framework which supports economic growth and meets the needs of local people and business." 

UUP Assembly candidate Jo-Anne Dobson and Councillor Glenn Barr both welcomed the approval of planning permission.

Commenting Mrs Dobson said: "This new development will cement the future of further education in Banbridge and the approval of planning permission is another important milestone in delivering new, modern college facilities for the town.

“Historically our local area has not received the level of capital investment in our college facilities which has been made available in other regions and any development in this area is to be warmly welcomed."

Councillor Glenn Barr said it was "great news for the town".

“I welcome the confirmation from SRC that their new campus will provide improved classroom sizes, greater accessibility and a more comfortable learning environment.  

“New facilities will provide much greater opportunities for the college to enhance and increase their course offering to fit the needs of the local economy and employers. I commend SRC for their proud legacy of providing skills and training to local people." 

Concluding Mrs Dobson said: "This is good news for Banbridge and those who use the campus for either full-time or part-time courses.  New and modern facilities for the college will enhance their provision to be able to meet the demands of future students, provide better conditions for pupils and staff and cement the future of further education in Banbridge." 

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