Planning approval granted for £40m college premises
Northern Regional College is pressing ahead with a £40m investment plan for its Ballymena campus after the proposed college building was given full planning approval.
The college is now inviting contractors to register interest in tendering for the construction contract to build a new building at the existing Farm Lodge site.
The announcement is a boost for the area's economy, coming after Wrightbus, a major employer in Ballymena, went into administration with the loss of 1,200 jobs.
Bob McCann, the newly appointed chairman of the college governing body, said: "The planning approval is a significant milestone in the progress of the project and represents an investment of over £40m in the Ballymena area by the Department for the Economy.
"The construction of the college will create job opportunities in mid and east Antrim, bringing much-needed investment to the area."
Professor Terri Scott, chief executive and principal of Northern Regional College, said the new campus would result in a world-class learning environment, enabling the delivery of training, skills and transformational education.
"The college is liaising with the business and industry sectors to determine the skills needs which will drive economic growth and produce new jobs and opportunities for the people of the area," she added.
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It is anticipated that between 150 and 200 construction jobs will be sustained during the building phase and 1,352 weeks of apprenticeship training will be delivered across the full spectrum of construction and management skills.
The Ballymena campus development forms part of an £84m capital investment programme, funded by the Department for the Economy, which includes the development of a new campus on the college's current site on Union Street in Coleraine and will also involve the redevelopment of the former Saint Patrick's Barracks site.