Plans for a new Northern Regional College campus in Ballymena took a step closer to fruition this week with news that the design contract for the scheme has been awarded.
McAdam Design has been awarded the design contract for the £84 million capital investment programme at Northern Regional College which will also deliver a new state of the art campus in Coleraine.
The Ballymena project will see a consolidated campus focused on a new build on the existing Farm Lodge site, adjacent to the St Patrick’s Barracks site.
The Farm Lodge campus has close links to the town centre and offers significant potential for redevelopment and synergies with the plans for St Patrick’s Barracks.
The projects are scheduled to be completed by summer 2022 and are funded by the Department for the Economy.
McAdam Design, a leading Northern Ireland based architectural and civil engineering design consultancy, was appointed to take forward the project following a public sector tendering process managed by the Department of Finance’s Central Procurement Directorate.
The design team will begin work immediately to advance the scheme with the development of proposals for both sites, working to industry guidelines to ensure the design in Ballymena fits with its setting.
A comprehensive pre-planning community consultation will be taken forward in the coming months.
Chairman of Northern Regional College, Hugh Crossey said: “I am delighted to see the College reach this significant milestone on a trajectory to move from six to four campuses which will in turn deliver greater efficiencies and improved student experience.
“There is a great sense of momentum behind the new build projects, building confidence with our staff and students.
“We look forward to engaging with key stakeholders as part of the process to optimise the investment for the wider community.”
The appointment of the design team follows months of preparation.
Beverley Harrison, Director of Further Education at the Department for the Economy, said: “This is a significant step in the development of the new campuses and demonstrates the Department’s commitment to the delivery of first class education and skills across Northern Ireland.
“The announcement is good news for the local economy and will benefit employment locally by providing cutting-edge facilities which will increase the skills base locally and attract investment and learners to the area.
“Northern Regional College is to be congratulated on the hard work which has brought the projects to this point and the Department will continue to support the College as we move forward with this vital investment.”
The news has also been welcomed by Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr. Paul Reid, who said it is “fantastic news” for the borough.
“This remarkable project will ultimately provide crucial investment in the education and development of our citizens, as well delivering a major boost to our economy,” Cllr. Reid said.
He added: “Our partners at Northern Regional College make an incredible contribution to the lives of residents in our Borough.
“Just last week our Council launched Amplify - an exciting new strategy to boost the economy and grow business throughout Mid and East Antrim.
“The strategy was prepared by Council working collaboratively with a number of key stakeholders, including Northern Regional College, to support the development of Mid and East Antrim right through until 2030.
“We look forward to continuing and building on our close working relationship with NRC, a place where our citizens can fully realise their potential and learn and develop skills for life, and will continue to support the college in any way we can as it works to deliver new state-of-the-art campuses.
“All of those involved in this incredible £84million project are to be commended for their unrelenting efforts and commitment, and as Mayor I look forward to seeing their ambitious plans and vision to create two of the UK’s top education centres brought to fruition.”