Reaseheath College has announced plans to add to its world class facilities by building an £8million industry-led Food Futures Centre.
The project will enable the Cheshire based college to support the government’s agri-tech strategy, which is designed to increase the competitiveness of the agriculture and food production industry and enable it to meet the challenge of world population growth and climate change.
The Department for Business Innovation and Skills, through the Skills Funding Agency, has allocated nearly £6m of capital grant for the project.
The building will provide a national centre for horticultural production, environmental management and conservation and renewable energy, and will be the leading one of its type in the country. It will include a visitor and interpretation centre and a schools unit.
In a second project, the college, in partnership with Cheshire East Council, is to develop a state-of-the-art centre for students with learning difficulties and disabilities. This £1.5m project, funded by the Education Funding Agency, will develop desperately needed specialist facilities for students from the Cheshire East area. Part of its remit is to help students achieve independent living skills.
Both developments are planned to be sited on a part of the college golf course which will close to the public next March. The buildings have been designed with considerable input from professional industry advisors. It is hoped that the planning applications will be submitted before the end of the year and that both buildings will be open for students and the public by September 2015.
The college also intends to use the opportunity to reconstruct its existing turf based sports pitches and build new 3G and multi-use artificial sports areas. A new sports centre for use by community and students will also be built. Significantly enhancing the sporting facilities and resources available to local people, the sports centre will cater for grass based team sports and sports requiring an artificial playing surface such as hockey, as well as a six court sports hall, team changing facilities and a fitness centre.
Space released by the relocation of the horticulture department has been earmarked for a further halls of residence on campus. Work on the design for these halls will begin shortly, with construction planned to start in summer 2014.
Announcing the approval of capital funding last week, Principal Meredydd David said that it had opened a huge and exciting opportunity for Reaseheath to be involved in the development of another world class educational facility.
He said: “I am thrilled that the government has identified Reaseheath as their preferred location for investing capital to develop this national Food Futures Centre. This will ensure that Reaseheath can continue to deliver specialist technical and educational training to next generation leaders.
“As a leading college, we are under constant pressure to invest into our facilities, but we also face campus restrictions. Following considerable discussion with master planners and local authority planning officers, it has become apparent that the only viable location for the new projects are on our golf course.
“The course is now used very little for training students and, regretfully, there is no other option than to close it. Reaseheath is continuing to work with the golf club to mitigate the impact of the closure, as far as is possible.”