City College's £215m revamp

STEVE DOWNES East Anglia's largest college could be totally demolished and replaced with a vast new facility costing more than £215m, it can be revealed today.The plan - possibly the most costly single education building project in England's history - would increase Norwich City College's capacity from 16,000 to 20,000 students.

STEVE DOWNES

East Anglia's largest college could be totally demolished and replaced with a vast new facility costing more than £215m, it can be revealed today.

The plan - possibly the most costly single education building project in England's history - would increase Norwich City College's capacity from 16,000 to 20,000 students.

College leaders said the ambitious project, which could take at least six years to complete, would provide future generations of Norfolk's youngsters with “world-class skills”.


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They added that it could help the city, county and region end years of lagging behind by giving them a kick-start to a “bright economic future”.

Plans for the rebuild are set to be lodged in March, and would signal the end for all of the existing buildings on Ipswich Road - including the iconic Norwich Building, the imposing front to a facility that has been there for more than 50 years.

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College principal Dick Palmer said: “We want to create a world-class campus, one that inspires and motivates our students, one that the local community can look on with pride - a flagship for Norwich and Norfolk.

“We have been at the forefront of providing world-class skills for local employers, but we need a new campus to equip us to deliver the highly-skilled workforce that Norwich and Norfolk will require to compete and prosper in the 21st century's global economy.”

Building work is planned to start in 2009, with the £96.4m phase one completed by September 2012. Phase two, costing £76.4m, is scheduled to end by September 2015.

A third phase, costing £42.7m, will be in the planning application but will only be built if demand for the college continues to grow.

The £215.5m total is excluding inflation - meaning the real cost if it goes ahead could be more than £300m.

The college will approach Learning and Skills Council Norfolk (LSC) for the first phase of funds. LSCs are likely to be abolished in a few years, so the college will have to approach their successor organisations for funding for phases two and three.

Mr Palmer said: “In the future, we simply cannot afford to waste the talents of any of our young people. The economic needs of the country are changing and people will need to have the high skills needed to secure good jobs.

“That's why we need to invest in world-class facilities now, to give future generations in Norwich and Norfolk the best possible learning environment to acquire those skills and to ensure a bright economic future for the region.”

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