A possible site for a new purpose-built Southern Regional College (SRC) campus in central Craigavon has been earmarked and a design team is to be appointed next month.
The Department of Employment and Learning said the SRC is working with Craigavon Council and the Planning Authority to pinpoint a site with the aim of appointing a design team next month.
The project will see the SRC campuses in Portadown and Lurgan replaced with a purpose-built campus.
Alderman Stephen Moutray, the Upper Bann MLA, said he hopes the college would be built close to Craigavon Lakes.
A spokesperson for the Department for Employment and Learning said, “The College is working with the District Council and the Planning Authority to identify and secure a suitable site for the new development.”
Speaking in response to Mr Moutray in the Assembly, Minister Stephen Farry said the SRC is planning major capital investment projects at Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon.
Mr Farry continued, “The Craigavon project will establish a new state-of-the art campus to replace the existing Lurgan and Portadown campuses. The work was originally planned to be delivered after the Armagh and Banbridge projects. However, I have been able to secure additional capital funding through Together: Building a United Community and hope to deliver the work on a similar timescale to that for the other projects.”
He said SRC has begun the process of identifying a design team to take forward all three developments, and the initial part of the exercise will be completed in the next two weeks.
The appointment of the design team will be completed by the end of March, and design work is expected to be completed in nine months, with the aim of awarding the construction contract in 2016.”
Unlike the Armagh and Banbridge projects, which will be developed on existing sites, a site has yet to be secured for the Craigavon development. However, the college has completed a site options analysis. On the basis of that analysis and following liaison with Craigavon Borough Council, a potentially suitable council-owned location has been identified. A pre-application discussion with Planning Service regarding the site is due to take place this month, and, depending on the outcome of that meeting, a decision on the next steps will be taken.
MLA Jo-anne Dobson asked for assurances that the recent budget cuts would not have an impact on the new-build however Mr Farry assured her that the SRC is a ‘priority’