Published: 17:13, 09 November 2021
| Updated: 18:13, 09 November 2021
A Kent college's plans to extend its building has been given a huge boost after getting government backing.
Ashford College is looking to move forward with the next phase of its development after a cash injection from the Department for Education.
The new 'engineering hub' building will allow about 250 extra students to study with the college, which is run by the EKC Group.
Phase one of the Elwick Road campus was finished in 2017, moving from the Jemmett Road campus which was turned into housing.
Now, EKC's bid for the government's 'Post-16 Capacity Fund' will see the new 'engineering hub' take shape on a site alongside the original building, pending planning permission.
EKC Group CEO Graham Razey welcomed the news, saying: “There’s a real and pressing need for additional high quality technical and vocational education places within the community served by our Ashford College.
“This fund is enabling providers like ourselves to future-proof provision, and grow it in line with local need. It will ensure that the many thousands of young people we and others can train due to this fund, are able to ‘Level Up’ with new opportunities available to develop outstanding skills that meet local employers’ needs.
“Our College Group has a mission to play a leading part in enhancing the social and economic prosperity within the communities we serve, and this fund will enable us to do this for even more people.”
The new hub will aim to promote access to the fields of Information Technology, Engineering and Business for females and underrepresented groups, and is set to focus on how engineering can create solutions to climate change and decarbonisation.
The college forms part of Ashford Borough Council’s Big 8 projects.
Council leader Gerry Clarkson said: “This is excellent news for the college, current and future students, and the wider borough as it will enable the next phase of the development of Ashford College to come forward, which is one of the council’s priorities in our corporate plan.
“This announcement means the delivery of the multi-million extension on the Elwick Road site to support engineering, business and IT curriculum provision and expands the capacity of the college to meet the increased demand for educational provision in Ashford.”
Ashford MP Damian Green said the news was "absolutely fantastic".
“The capacity fund was created to ensure providers that are primed to grow get the opportunity to do so," he said.
“This funding will ensure the college is future-proofed and able to deliver a first class education for students who attend it as Ashford continues to grow and flourish in the future.”