Craigavon site for new campus

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A possible site for a new purpose-built Southern Regional College in central Craigavon has been earmarked and a design team is to be appointed next month.

The Department of Employment and Learning confirmed to the ’MAIL’ that the College is working with Craigavon Council and the Planning Authority pinpoint the site.

DUP MLA Stephen Moutray had raised the proposed new college at the Assembly and Minister Stephen Farry said the SRC is planning major capital investment projects at Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon.

Mr Moutray told the ‘MAIL’ that he was unaware of the exact location but he had hoped the college would be built close to the lakes and near the new leisure centre.

A spokesperson for the Department for Employment and Learning said: “The College is working with the District Council and the Planning Authority to identify and secure a suitable site for the new development.”

Mr Farry told the Assembly: “The Craigavon project will establish a new state-of-the art campus to replace the existing Lurgan and Portadown campuses. The work was originally planned to be delivered after the Armagh and Banbridge projects. However, I have been able to secure additional capital funding through Together: Building a United Community and hope to deliver the work on a similar timescale to that for the other projects.

“Southern Regional College has begun the process of identifying a design team to take forward all three developments, and the initial part of the exercise will be completed in the next two weeks. The appointment of the design team will be completed by the end of March 2015. Unlike the Armagh and Banbridge projects, which will be developed on existing sites, a site has yet to be secured for the Craigavon development. However, the college has completed a site options analysis. On the basis of that analysis and following liaison with Craigavon Borough Council, a potentially suitable council-owned location has been identified. A pre-application discussion with Planning Service regarding the site is due to take place this month, and, depending on the outcome of that meeting, a decision on the next steps will be taken. Subject to securing an appropriate site, design work is expected to be completed in approximately nine months from April 2015, with the aim of awarding the construction contract during 2016.

Mr Moutray asked that discussions take place with local businesses so courses are tailored to their needs?

Jo-Anne Dobson asked for assurances that the recent budget cuts would not have an impact on the new-build, however, Mr Farry assured her that the SRC is a ‘priority’