Wellingborough's £10m college upgrade hits milestone

Work to make Wellingborough's eyesore Tresham College campus 'look pretty' officially got under way yesterday (Wednesday).

Thursday, 28th November 2019, 6:00 am
L-R Adrian Piper Assistant Director Borough Council Wellingborough, Project Manager Mark Eustace, Victoria Phillipson Property and Projects Manager Borough Council of Wellingborough, The Bedford College Group CEO Ian Pryce and Lucinda Young SEMLEP Contracts Programme Manager.

The first cladding panel was put in place by Bedford College Group chief executive officer Ian Pryce at the Church Street site, which is undergoing a £10m refurbishment ahead of its full re-opening in September 2020.

The cladding - which cost £1.9m alone - is being placed over the exterior of the tower block to make it easier on the eye as work takes place to transform the interior, which has already been gutted with 20 tonnes of asbestos removed.

Mr Pryce said: "I am very pleased with how the refurbishment of the existing building is going, it's a big thing for us.

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A mock-up of how the cladding will look.

"Wellingborough is one of the largest communities in the country without an FE (further education) centre.

"Students have had to travel to places like Northampton so having this centre back is what the town needs."

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Furniture should be moved into the building in about June ready to welcome about 1,000 students and staff three months later.

Ian Pryce attaching the first cladding panel.

Project manager Mark Eustace said: "The building has had a zig-zag but we are getting rid of that and making it look pretty.

"It will be stunning. It will be a modern, high-performance, energy efficient building."

The Church Street campus has only been partially open for motor vehicle students for several years, with a separate block at the back in Queen Street demolished.

When the campus fully re-opens in September full-time courses will be re-introduced including, carpentry, plumbing, business, brickwork and electrical as well as access to higher education, early years and health and social care, and IT and computing, which are currently taught at Croyland Hall nearby in the town centre thanks to Wellingborough Council.

An artist's impression of the refurbished campus.

Part-time courses in accountancy, counselling, preparing to teach (PTLLS) English and maths, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), HR (CIPD) and management and leadership (CMI) will also be available in the new-look campus.

The upgrade was made possible after The Bedford College Group - formed in 2017 when Bedford College merged with Tresham College - was awarded £7.5m in funding from Semlep.

Paul Thompson, employment and skills manager at Semlep, said: “Construction, education and health and social care are all fast-growing sectors in the Semlep area and ones in which employers tell us that they face skills shortages, including those relating to digital technology and management. Tackling business constraints around local workforce skills and competencies is a strategic priority for Semlep’s investment programme.

The Bedford Group CEO Ian Pryce and Project Manager Mark Eustace at the Wellingborough Campus site.

“We’re pleased to work in partnership with The Bedford College Group which is responding head-on to the skills needs of employers.”

The new interior walls (left) next to the old zig-zag walls (right).