College set to upgrade its sites with £9m award

Northumberland College in Ashington
Northumberland College in Ashington

NORTHUMBERLAND College has been awarded a multi-million pound cash injection to overhaul its facilities at both Ashington and Kirkley Hall.

The college put a successful bid for a £3m package, from the Skills Funding Agency, which will be matched with a further £6m from funds.

The Ashington campus in College Road will receive the biggest cash injection, of £6m, which will be used to create state-of-the-art construction, engineering and motor vehicle workshops.

It will also allow for refurbishment to brickwork, plastering, carpentry and painting and decorating workshops, as well as the ground floor of the main campus building, to create a hair salon, restaurant and enterprise units.

The Kirkley Hall campus, near Ponteland, is in for a £3m investment to create new arboriculture and tractor workshops, along with a new education block, containing eight classrooms, an open learning suite and a learning resource centre.

College principal and chief executive Stuart Cutforth said: “This is fantastic news not only for the college but for the community as a whole.

“We have been working closely with architects and cost consultants to prepare an outline scheme and have reached a proposal which provides both new-build and refurbished state-of-the-art sustainable teaching environments driven by the needs of learners and the wider community.

“Now that we have been given the green light, we are progressing procurement of a professional team in order to deliver the project in a timely and cost effective manner.

“The upgraded facilities will be completed by September 2014, although some aspects of the upgrade will be complete before that date.

It is hoped the project will not only enhance the learning facilities for students, but also attract new students, particularly in the 16 to 18 age groups, and enable new courses to be introduced.

An enterprise and employability hub will be a key feature in the plans for the Ashington campus, which will be available to both students and the local community to encourage business start-ups.

Mr Cutforth added: “This is definitely an exciting time for Northumberland College.

“We are ready to put the disappointments and setbacks from the past few years behind us and move forward with creating a Northumberland College for the future.”