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East Kent College in Broadstairs wins £9.7 million from Skills Funding Agency for major redevelopment

By Mary Louis

East Kent College is to get nearly £10m from the Government to boost training and provide a state-of-the-art hotel.

The Government’s Skills Funding Agency (SFA) has pledged £9,736,000 to provide new training facilities at the college.

The investment will be focused on priority growth sectors: tourism, creative industries and business.

Graham Razey, principal of East Kent College, after the award of nearly £10 million

Graham Razey, principal of East Kent College, after the award of nearly £10 million

Funds have been earmarked to upgrade EKC’s Grade II-listed Yarrow Building.

The project will include building a state-of-the-art hotel and hospitality training centre within the Yarrow Building, providing the perfect learning environment for skills linked to event management, hospitality, travel and tourism.

An innovation space for creative industries start-ups, incorporating a business administration academy, will also be established within the Yarrow Building.

Sandra Matthews-Marsh, Visit Kent chief executive

Sandra Matthews-Marsh, Visit Kent chief executive

Architects have begun working on plans with the aim of having the new facilities in place by September 2015.

EKC principal Graham Razey said: “This is a significant investment and we are delighted that, depending on planning approval, we are going to be able to turn a historic building into a real-work environment for our students.

"The new facilities will also provide a large number of apprenticeship places across a much wider range of careers than is currently available.”

Visit Kent chief executive Sandra Matthews-Marsh described the award announcement as “game-changing news for young people as well as the tourism and hospitality industry in East Kent and right across the county".

She said: “East Kent College has an outstanding reputation in this field and now they will have the best facilities possible to provide their students with a tremendous training opportunity that will serve them well in their future careers.

“We are looking forward to working even more closely with the students and the college to develop and nurture the highest standards of customer service and delivery which will benefit hotels and hospitality providers in Kent and much farther afield.”

Mr Razey said: “Our proposals are designed to meet the current and future skills needs of east Kent.

“This is a significant investment and we are delighted that...we are going to be able to turn a historic building into a real-work environment for our students" - college principal Graham Razey

"The catering and hospitality, business services and creative industries sectors are all priorities of growth within the local economy so we are hopeful that Thanet District Council and Kent County Council will support our plans. Initial discussions with the local authority have been very positive.”

Thanet council leader Cllr Clive Hart said it was “excellent news”.

“Everything about this project supports our district’s objectives and those of east Kent in general. From Thanet’s Destination Management Plan through to our Economic Growth and Regeneration Strategy, this project fits every aspiration,” he said.

“Excellent training and top class facilities are exactly what people here in East Kent need, particularly our young searching for employment opportunities. Congratulations to Graham Razey and all at East Kent College.”

The project totals £10,700,000. East Kent College is financing costs not being met by the SFA’s College Capital Investment Fund.

The funding will also support redevelopment of other parts of the Broadstairs campus. Before news of the funding, the Yarrow Building had been designated for disposal due to the level of work needed.

EKC will now be applying for planning permission to Thanet council.

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