Look­ing to the fu­ture as cam­pus opens

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News - By Ai­dan Bar­low

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

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