FULL planning permission has been granted for a new £140m joint training centre for police, prison and fire officers.
Work is due to start later this year on the Northern Ireland Community Safety College at Desertcreat Road, near Cookstown. The project is due to be completed in 2015.
The development will be seen as part of the new start for policing in Northern Ireland and as a means of the Executive providing major investment and thousands of jobs east of the Bann.
The academic campus, at over 23,000 square metres, will provide new teaching, training and residential facilities for the PSNI, Prison Service and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.
The application also includes associated car parking, access, landscaping and other ancillary site works and includes plans for a single wind turbine.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood, who approved the plans yesterday, said: “The granting of full planning permission is an important step in the development of this significant project. This is why a timely decision here was crucial. This application was submitted on June 15, 2012.”
Justice Minister David Ford said the campus will provide “world class academic facilities” and specialised practical training areas, such as a mock city centre and police station, fire house and prison. He added: “I very much look forward to seeing the project develop.”
Public Safety Minister Edwin Poots said: “This is another important milestone in the story of the Northern Ireland Community Safety College.”
He added: “This type of joint facility isn’t available anywhere else in the world. Here in Northern Ireland, we are leading the way and it is something we can be rightly proud of.”
Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie added: “This is a very exciting time for all of the three services involved and over the next few months we hope to be in a position to announce the conclusion of the procurement process and award the construction contract.
“This in turn will create approximately 1,500 to 2,000 construction jobs which is a great opportunity not just for the local area but for Northern Ireland generally.”
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that the college could have “huge economic benefits to the mid-Ulster area”.
The Sinn Fein man added: “It is, however, crucial that from the beginning new recruits are instilled with the new policing ethos of community policing with a strong human rights approach being central to this, as demanded by the Good Friday Agreement.”