A £45 million capital project, fully funded by the Department for the Economy, to develop a new state-of-the-art campus for Northern Regional College in Ballymena has reached another “milestone moment”.
The official Construction Notice has been issued to permit construction works to commence on building a new campus for the College at Farm Lodge. This will replace the existing Farm Lodge and Trostan Avenue campuses, consolidating the two sites into one.
Mel Higgins, principal and chief executive of Northern Regional College, said: “The issue of this Construction Notice is a ‘milestone moment’ on our journey towards our new state-of-the-art campus in Ballymena.
“Having made such tremendous progress in recent months preparing for the construction phase, we are excited to finally be able to take this important step forward with our appointed contractor, Heron Bros.”
The new Ballymena campus will feature a flexible ‘innovation zone’ that can be adapted for a range of activities, including cross-curriculum project-based learning, conferences, and performances.
The facilities within the campus have been aligned to the needs of the local and regional economy, with around 50% of direct curriculum space allocated to advanced technologies which will complement the new developments in hydrogen and green environmental provision at Farm Lodge.
Mel Higgins continued: “Our ambitious vision to create a world-class learning environment in this new campus in Ballymena will not only benefit our students but will enhance our ability to welcome and serve our local community in Ballymena and the surrounding area.
“We remain committed to engaging closely with residents, and stakeholders throughout the build project and are grateful for their continued strong support, encouragement and co-operation.”
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons, said: “The issue of the Construction Notice is another significant step forward in the project to build what will be a fantastic new further education campus for Northern Regional College in Ballymena.
“This £45million investment by my Department will deliver state-of-the-art contemporary facilities for learners in Ballymena and the surrounding area for many years to come.
“The new campus and its capabilities also align with our 10X Economic Vision for a decade of innovation, enabling people to equip themselves with the skills they need for the jobs of the future economy.
“I wish everyone involved with the project the very best as the work continues.”
Karl McKillop, construction director of Heron Bros, said: “We are delighted to be involved with another prestigious landmark development for the Northern Regional College.
“We look forward to creating a world class learning environment that will leave a lasting impact for the people of Ballymena that will reverberate in the wider area.”
It is anticipated that over 150 new construction jobs will be created and a further 300 sustained during the building phase of the Ballymena campus. Along with these full-time jobs, over 1,350 weeks of employment and training will be provided through traineeships, apprenticeships and higher level apprenticeships (HLAs) across a range of construction related trades.
The Ballymena campus construction project is expected to be completed during the 2024/25 academic year.
The project forms part of a wider £85 million capital investment programme by the Department which will also see the development of a new campus for the College at Union Street in Coleraine.
While the new Coleraine campus is being developed, the College has temporarily re-located to Beresford Avenue in the town.