New £30million animal care centre could create 100 jobs

Houghall Campus of East Durham College
Houghall Campus of East Durham College
Have your say

A MULTI-MILLION pound redevelopment of a college site could signal more than 100 new jobs.

East Durham College’s Houghall Campus would welcome a new animal care centre, sheds for hundreds of livestock, an equine centre, dog grooming areas, workshops, facilities for staff as part of the £30million proposals.

In addition to securing 101 existing jobs, the expansion would create 101 more, with another 30 per cent of students to be added to the 1,0000 it trains each year.

Education chiefs say it would benefit the community by £60.4million and boost the salaries of staff by £5.4million, with the same amount to be spent by the college on goods and services.

A revamp of the main building would include a new glass entrance and a lobby which would house a reception, social space, classrooms, laboratories and computer space and better IT facilities.

College bosses, who have submitted a funding bid of £10million to the Skills and Funding Agency to help cover the cost of the work, say the redevelopment will establish its reputation as the region’s leading provider of land-based courses and training.

They says there is a risk it could close if planning permission is not granted and the state of its buildings have been highlighted as an issue for a decade for restricting learning.

If it is approved, Durham County Council has said the application should be referred to the Secretary of State as it is in a green belt and says the benefits of the development outweigh any harm it would cause.

College principal Suzanne Duncan said: “Our ambition is for Houghall to be regarded as one of the leading land-based training providers in the country.

“In order to make this happen we need to completely redevelop the site.

“Many of the buildings were built in the 1930s, so to ensure we can deliver the best possible education and training we need modern facilities matching those out in industry.

“The students at our state-of-the-art facility in Peterlee have benefited greatly from the new build campus there since January 2009, and we dearly want facilities of the same quality for those attending Houghall too.”

The college site was once put on the market, but taken off in 2010 as its bosses pledged to restore it to its former glory.

The plot had been suggested as the location by developers who wanted to turn the land into a Dark Ages theme park.

The council’s county planning committee, which has been recommended to approve the scheme, will meet at 2pm tomorrow (TUE) at County Hall.

It comes after the Echo revealed Sunderland Colege’s plans for a new £29million campus in the city centre.