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Stackyard News Nov 2012

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Askham Bryan College Announces £9m Investment Programme

Exciting new plans have been announced by Askham Bryan College which will see a £9m investment into new projects both at Newton Rigg College and at the York campus, at Askham Bryan.

The view across the fields to the library at Newton Rigg College

Newton Rigg College

Chief Executive, Liz Philip said: "We have just received news that our bid to the Skills Funding Agency for capital funding has been wholly successful. We will receive £3m from the SFA which will be matched by a further £6m from funds. This is hugely significant, not only for the College, but for the education of tomorrow's young people, for the economy across the North of England, and for the positive impact it will have on agriculture generally."

Additional jobs are also expected to result. "I would anticipate that around 75 new jobs will be created. We currently employ 520 people in full and part time roles, but as you would expect, to deliver more courses to more students, we will need to recruit and that will be a further boost to the local economy," said Mrs Philip.

The spend will be allocated as below and, subject to consultation and planning approvals, will take place over the next two to three years. Detail will now be added to the various plans and outline designs, permissions sought and action plans formulated.

Outline of Planned Works

At Newton Rigg College, Penrith:

  • a state of the art dairy unit
  • a new building for the recently announced National Centre for the Uplands
  • enhancement of the original sandstone buildings, new classrooms and reception area, creation of green areas at the heart of the campus and removal of underused and dilapidated buildings on the main site
  • re-located equine centre
  • extension of the biomass boiler system to expand the use of the campus's sustainable heating system

At Askham Bryan College, York:

  • a new wildlife and conservation centre
  • a new canine centre with veterinary nursing suite, hydrotherapy, dog grooming and kennels plus a cattery

The plans will also lead to greater student numbers and a larger portfolio of courses offered, says Mrs Philip. "We are already the fastest growing landbased College in England - our student numbers have increased three fold in the last five years - from 800 full time students in 2007 to today's figure of 2,500, plus around 3,000 part time students.

"Our students deserve the best learning environment possible, and certainly whilst our our latest Ofsted (Jan 2012) designated us as a "good college with outstanding features", it stated that the standard of some of our buildings was poor. We needed to address that, and now we are able to put that into action," said Mrs Philip.

It is anticipated that new courses will be offered across a range of sectors including animal collections management, canine and companion animals, (eg cats, guinea pigs and rabbits) wildlife and conservation and animal science. Veterinary nursing is a growing area which will also benefit from the facility.

Wes Johnson, Principal, Newton Rigg College

Wes Johnson
Commenting on plans for Newton Rigg, Wes Johnson, Principal said: "We have some wonderful original sandstone buildings, the library and of course the original Newton Rigg farmhouse. We want open up the campus with green areas to enhance the whole feel of the college and make the most of these buildings. At present they are hidden amongst a real mish mash of buildings, several of which are in disrepair and need to be replaced."

The first visible sign of progress will be the start of the dairy at Newton Rigg which is expected to begin this month (November). Planning permission was received last June and the tender process to appoint the contractor is in the final stages. Tendering will also get underway to upgrade buildings on the campus with the hope of construction beginning next summer.

Low Beckside will be the demonstration farm for the college's new National Centre for the Uplands. Planning permission will be sought to replace poor farm buildings with a general purpose building to be used for sheep handling and teaching. It is also hoped to relocate the current equine centre closer to the heart of the campus.

Support and congratulations have already come from a wide range of organisations and businesses .

Lord Inglewood, a former Newton Rigg student and renowned Cumbrian landowner and agriculturalist said: "Newton Rigg is now alive again and is making progress towards once more becoming the great Cumbrian institution and rural education centre it used to be."

Eden District Council Leader, Coun Gordon Nicolson, commented: "Eden District Council welcomes this news. Newton Rigg has a long history of supporting land based industries in Cumbria and the new investment will mean that that support will continue and be assisted by new up to date facilities."

Lord (Donald) Curry said: "“I am delighted that Askham Bryan College has been so successful. It is vital that young people are inspired to achieve their educational potential so the farming industry has the best workforce and leaders possible. The benefits that the vision and confidence the College has shown will be reaped by the industry for years to come."

link Fresh Start Uplands Academy Launched
link Innovation Priorities for Primary Food Production in the UK to 2030
link A Future in Food Farming & The Environment, A Career to Consider

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