Plans for a new £45m state-of-the-art Southern Regional College (SRC) campus at Craigavon Lakes have been submitted to Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council.
Plans have been in the pipeline for the multi-million pound investment for almost 10 years however they have been plagued with controversy as a local action group have voiced considerable opposition to the location of the campus.
SRC has already secured planning permission for two new campuses in Armagh and Banbridge, both to be built on existing sites.
The Craigavon development, sited next to the recently-approved £30m Craigavon Leisure Centre, close to the Craigavon Civic and Conference Centre and Rushmere Shopping Centre, will replace the Lurgan and Portadown campuses with a single new campus.
However a local action group Save Craigavon Park and Lakes have been vociferously opposed to the location believing it could be detrimental to local wildlife. They have also called on the campus to be located elsewhere amid concerns about traffic congestion issues.
The SRC says the campus will ‘help transform education provision across the region, providing world-leading skills training and courses designed to support local and regional job creation and employment opportunities in key economic areas, including science, manufacturing, engineering, ICT, hospitality and tourism’.
All three college campuses, which represent a total investment of around £95 million, are supported by the Department for the Economy and are expected to be completed in 2020.
SRC Chief Executive, Brian Doran said: “A concept first conceived in 2009, this Craigavon campus represents an enormous opportunity to support current and future generations to achieve their full potential in a fast-changing world that demands commercially-focused flexible skills, knowledge and training.
“It will also provide a modern and innovative environment that will enhance business and educational collaboration, support the delivery of new and exciting learning opportunities from entry level through to degree level and be used to strengthen our partnership with community- based organisations.”
An SRC statement said: “The planning submission is the result of extensive pre-application engagement and dialogue with a wide range of local and regional stakeholders, community groups and residents.”
Brian Doran added: “Our continued engagement with students, staff, businesses and the local and wider community will be our priority as we move forward to create an unrivalled educational offer in stunning, modern facilities which fit everyone’s needs.”
For more information on the Craigavon campus, visit www.src.ac.uk/corporate-information/estates-strategy-at-southern-regional-college/craigavon-campus-estates-strategy