WORK has begun on a new multi-million pound flagship college for Sunderland.
A turf-cutting ceremony was held in Sunderland city centre to mark the start of work on a £29million campus.
Principal of Sunderland College, Anne Isherwood, was joined by Julie Elliott MP for Sunderland Central and Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, to cut the first turf at the site, off Holmeside.
BAM Construction was appointed by Sunderland College in November to build the new campus, which is expected to be completed in Spring 2016.
The multi-million pound vocational campus in the heart of Sunderland, on land opposite Park Lane bus station, and will accommodate up to 2,000 students and more than 120 staff once complete.
Spanning 12,500 square metres, the state-of-the-art building will house vocational courses, transferred from the college’s Hylton Campus, including advanced engineering, manufacturing, construction trades, automotive trades, travel and tourism, and catering and hospitality.
It will also feature hair, beauty and barbering facilities, a spa, a bakery, a travel agency, restaurant and a car repair service, all of which will be accessible to the public.
Ms Elliott said: “I was delighted to be involved in marking this significant milestone for Sunderland College’s new City Campus. This project will play a vital role in the ongoing regeneration of the city centre and will help to boost the local economy by welcoming thousands of students into the heart of Sunderland.
“It is essential for our young people to receive the very best education through excellent teaching provision and first-class facilities and I am very pleased to see that Sunderland College is investing in its students and helping them to shape their future in a positive way.”
Coun Watson said: “It’s fantastic to see work starting on the new City Campus. It will be a real asset, providing a major boost for the city centre and its economy in addition to excellent learning opportunities for our young people.
“There is already a large amount of work underway to improve the city centre and this development will really help to invigorate that area.”
Mrs Isherwood said: “This is a fantastic occasion as we celebrate the start of work on our new campus, which we believe will breathe new life into Sunderland city centre. We have been working on this exciting project for many years and it is a very rewarding feeling to see these plans coming to fruition.
“The City Campus has been designed to combine industry-standard facilities and outstanding teaching for our vocational and apprenticeship students, and will equip them with the skills and practical experience they need for their future careers.
“As well as providing a wide range of professional and technical courses, the City Campus will also be home to the college’s commercial ventures and we are looking forward to welcoming members of the public to these facilities. We are confident that our flagship campus will enhance the vibrancy of the city centre and will be of benefit to Sunderland for many years to come.”