£50 million project to build new Northumberland College campus in Ashington given green light

A CGI of what the new Northumberland College site will look like
-Credit: (Image: Copyright Unknown)

Plans to build a state-of-the-art college campus in Ashington have been approved by council planners.

The new campus, comprising of three blocks, will be built on a 5.7 acre site in Wansbeck Business Park. The new buildings will be built to a net-zero specification and will provide teaching spaces for a wide range of courses including advanced manufacturing and engineering as well as academic subjects.

The plans came before Northumberland County Council's Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday. Ellen Thinnesen, chief executive of the college’s parent organisation Education Partnership North East, explained the importance of the scheme.

She said: "This is a major, transformative investment of over £50 million for the people of Ashington, its surrounding areas and, more broadly, the county and the North East of England. We're seeking to construct three college blocks for technical and academic education and skills.

"Considering the ambition we have, the current campus at Ashington is not fit for purpose. The approval of this application is absolutely crucial.

"It will result in significant benefits to the local community."

Councillors did raise concerns about the loss of biodiversity on the site and questioned the number of car parking spaces. However, council officers assured them that these issues had been considered and that the benefits of the scheme outweighed any possible negatives.

Following this, the plans were unanimously approved by members.

Labour's Coun Julie Foster, who represents the Stakeford ward, said: "This has been a long time coming. It has been needed for a long time.

"Even when I went to Northumberland College, it wasn't the greatest building - and that was a long time ago. This looks like a lovely site.

"I can see this is going to be a huge benefit for all of those staff and young people who use it. I welcome the development."

Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, the Conservative administration's cabinet member for education, added: "It is no surprise that I would be in favour of this. The council have worked very closely with the college and the Department for Education to get this investment into Ashington.

"I am really excited about this level of investment coming into Northumberland and we have to get fully behind it."