Plans to transform Dunstable’s ageing college campus into facilities fit for the 21st century are coming closer to reality.
A year ago, the government pledged to give £9million in capital funding towards the £15.3million needed for a rebuild of much of Central Bedfordshire College’s Kingsway campus.
That left the college to find £6.3million, with some of the funding expected to come from the sale of surplus land at the rear of the campus. A large section will be rebuilt and a demolition team moved in last week.
Some staff and teachers are being relocated across the road to the old Dunstable Magistrates Court building while the work takes place.
South West Beds MP Andrew Selous lobbied both the previous government and this government for capital funding for the college.
A debate was held in Parliament in late 2012 on the funding issue. The MP told the Gazette last year: “I am delighted to learn about this capital funding for Central Bedfordshire College.
“It is excellent news for learners across the whole of South Bedfordshire. I look forward to building work beginning as soon as possible.”
The government cash is a grant from the Skills Funding Agency. Under the scheme, new areas are being provided for subjects including hair and beauty, catering, engineering, performing arts and digital media.
They also include a new hair and beauty salon open to the public, and a restaurant and cafe with its own roof area.
Dunstable’s campus has buildings dating back to the 1950s. Once redeveloped, the campus is expected to be cheaper to heat and maintain.
The college says the development will help to meet rapidly increasing demand for its courses and further improve the experience of students.
Plans include providing vocational training areas which more closely resemble the workplace.
College principal Ali Hadawi told the Gazette: “By awarding this grant, the Skills Funding Agency is expressing its confidence in the college.
“We are absolutely delighted that after many years of hard work, we will be able to transform the Dunstable campus. We will also be able to welcome even more people from Luton and Dunstable, and the surrounding community, into our building, whether for a cup of coffee or a life-changing qualification.”