Looking to the future as campus opens
Council and college chiefs greeted students for their first day at the newly-opened town centre campus this week.
The £26 million development in Elwick Road is the first of the council’s “big eight” projects to be completed.
It will cater for 1,000 students and includes a multi-media learning centre, live music production suites, photography and fine art studios, teaching kitchens and hair salons, and an independent living facility.
The college has been built by the Hadlow Group, and has been funded by the £30 million land sale of Jemmett Road, where 160 new homes and flats will be built.
Funding also came from Ashford Borough Council and from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.
The first phase will shortly be followed by “phase 1a” which includes a teaching block in Station Road for construction crafts including plumbing and bricklaying, along with electrical and general engineering, and motor vehicle mechanics.
Phase 2 of the college could see the purchase of Swanton House, which would be demolished to make way for facilities for higher education students.
Hadlow Group chief executive Paul Hannan joined council leader Gerry Clarkson to greet students on the first day on Tuesday.
He said: “The new campus will play a very significant part in ensuring our provision complies with the highest standards.
“It is a real opportunity for our students and future students to learn and train in excellent new facilities.”
Cllr Clarkson said: “This firstrate facility will educate and equip students with the necessary knowledge and employment skills needed in the future.
“This exciting project will realise a long-held ambition of the council for a high quality learning facility, right in the heart of the town centre. It is the first of the Big 8 major projects to be delivered and will play a key part in our future prosperity.
“It is expected that the new college will increase skills levels and therefore lead to better employment opportunities for the residents of the borough while playing a pivotal role, alongside neighbouring development, in rejuvenating the town centre.”
Council leader Gerry Clarkson, left, with Paul Hannan and college students