OLDHAM College’s transformation is entering an exciting new phase after its plans for a new £9 million Construction Centre were approved.
The state-of-the-art facility – where students will learn the building and trade skills of the future – got the green light at a meeting of Oldham Council’s Planning Committee tonight (January 28).
This landmark development is crucial to Oldham College’s strategic plans.
The new build two-storey venue will be completed during the 2020/21 academic year – providing an extra 2,296 sq m of specialist teaching and learning space.
A focus on curriculum expansion and delivering higher skills linked closely to employer demand means that students will be able to learn technical trades and higher professional skills through to degree level.
The Construction Centre also means construction student numbers are set to increase by 70 per cent at Oldham College – with related apprenticeships also expanding an extra 200 places a year. All will enjoy first class provision for practical plumbing and electrical work plus flexible build spaces, testing areas, mobile workbenches, breakout and showcase areas, and associated classrooms, offices and storage space.
For Oldham College – recently shortlisted for College of the Year at the TES FE Awards – this project is also central to preparations for delivering the new T Level qualifications from September 2021 onwards.
Alun Francis, Oldham College Principal and Chief Executive, said: “We’re really excited to have secured planning permission and to be getting on with delivering this excellent new facility.” “Tonight’s decision means preparatory works can start on-site this week and, as part of our wider regeneration programme, that will also see the demolition of the outdated Bronte and Bevan buildings.“This is the next step in cementing our unique position as Oldham’s expert provider of specialist work-related education and training – and it’s integral to our plans to deliver higher skilled qualifications, including the new T Levels, that local employers and industry need.“This will put our facilities on par with the best across the GM City Region and make Oldham College the best place to learn and study the construction jobs of the future.”
Oldham College has chosen Willmott Dixon, the UK’s leading independent construction and property services company, as its construction partner, and international award-winning AHR as project architects.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is contributing a £6.95 million grant towards the £9 million project costs with Oldham College providing the remaining capital funding.
Councillor Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council and the GMCA’s lead for Education and Skills, said: “This is great news for Oldham College – and for our efforts in filling gaps in skills provision and helping to improve productivity across Greater Manchester.”
“This project complements Oldham Council’s own ambitions and regeneration plans for Oldham town centre, and it will also be a significant boost for the local construction industry and local people.
“Working in close partnership with Oldham College and employers, this project is just one of several ways that the GMCA are supporting young people across the City Region to discover their talents, fulfil their potential, and be ready to enter the world of work.”
The Local Growth Fund is granted to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. LEPs play a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country. The Greater Manchester LEP administers Local Growth Fund in conjunction with GMCA. Mo Isap, the Greater Manchester LEP board member leading on Education and Future Skills, said: “This is tremendous news for Oldham and Greater Manchester – a further investment into addressing the skills gap that exists within one of our key industries.”
“Nationally the Construction sector needs to create 36,000 new jobs per annum to keep up with current demand, further to which digital construction processes are creating high-skilled jobs which Oldham College will now be best placed to meet. “I also thank and congratulate Wilmot Dixon for their ongoing commitment to the City Region, illustrating again how in Greater Manchester we are the best in forging private and public sector partnerships to deliver economic and social prosperity.” The on-site re-organisation of the Oldham College campus from this project will also create additional space to meet demand for the provision of English as a Second Language (ESOL) and the re-accommodation of science, digital design, health professions and English and mathematics into their own specialist spaces.
Oldham College is also set to complete the transfer of the neighbouring former GM UTC facility* into the college site with work to fit out this modern asset scheduled to begin this summer: preparing it for growing the specialism in post-16 science, technology and digital skills.