Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group (NSCG) has officially unveiled plans for a brand new £23M Skills and Innovation Hub.
The news comes following the successful application by the Group to Stafford Borough Council for permission to demolish mothballed buildings on the Earl Street and Broad Street corner of the existing campus, to make way for the new scheme which has a targeted completion date of 2022.
The ambitious plans include a 7,500 sq foot, 3 storey Skills and Innovation Hub equipped with leading edge equipment and state-of-the-art skills, construction, engineering and motor vehicle facilities, along with a 4 court sports hall, gym and 300-seat auditorium.
This latest announcement relating to the Stafford College campus comes almost two years after the College opened a brand new Science and Technology Centre which is home to state-of-the-art science laboratories, IT suites and a LEGO® Education Innovation Studio. Since the merger between Newcastle College and Stafford College in November 2016, a total of £13.5M has been invested to improve facilities and student experience at the town centre campus. Other recent enhancements include; a fully revamped Learning Resources Centre, new dining areas and a new Mac Suite, alongside substantial investment into innovative hybrid motor vehicle equipment and significant improvements to the IT infrastructure.
If approved, the plans will see the College exit its current leased skills and construction facility, located on Palmbourne Industrial Estate, with staff and course delivery transferred to the new facility on the main campus in 2022.
Principal and Chief Executive of NSCG, Karen Dobson confirmed that enhancing the learning experience for students whilst providing staff with an inspiring workplace to be proud of, were key drivers behind the plans. Said Karen: “When Newcastle and Stafford College merged to form NSCG we had a very clear vision of the journey ahead. Our latest plans serve to reinforce our commitment to investing in our estate to provide the students of Staffordshire inspirational learning environments that will help to optimise their talent and expand their horizons.”
“Early on in the merger process it was clear that we should consolidate our provision in Stafford on to one site and, once these works are completed it will mean all of our Stafford-based courses will be delivered from one, centrally located campus, with the best facilities in the region.”
In addition to College funds, NSCG is working with the Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and other partners to secure a funding package which will enable a prompt start to the development.
Contractors will be appointed following a tender process in early 2020 and full planning permission will be submitted in June 2019.
Continued Karen: “We hope to commence work in early 2020 be open in time for the 2022/3 academic year, but of course this is subject to us securing the necessary planning approval and funding. Approval will be fantastic news for the town as a whole and will bring positive benefits to the local economy and the thousands of future students and families who will become part of our college community.”
“We are excited about the proposals and the initial stakeholder feedback has been extremely positive, we will continue in dialogue with staff, students and external stakeholders as we move the project forward.”
If approved, the Skills and Innovation Hub will attract a diverse student body across a wide range of predominantly skills based subjects, which will help to address future skills gaps in the region whilst also supporting Government priorities around sport and increasing the number of young people studying on apprenticeship programmes. Already a significant provider of apprenticeships, NSCG currently has over 2,200 apprentice learners, working with over 800 regional employers, a substantial percentage of whom are in the skills and construction trades. The building will accommodate up to 1000 learners and up to 200 staff.
Stafford College is hosting an open event on Saturday 15 June between 10am and 12 noon, where there will be the opportunity to find out more about the proposed plans for the Skills and Innovation Hub. Alternatively visit www.nscg.ac.uk/consultation for more information.