This site acquisition is the first stage of the College’s plans to expand its existing Newry East Campus, which is adjacent to this site, and paves the way for the creation of a new Student Innovation Centre for those students studying both further and higher education courses.
This project will also see the rationalisation of the College’s Newry estate with this extension to their Patrick Street provision replacing ageing not fit for purpose accommodation at their Model campus.
It is the College’s intention to immediately demolish the former Sports Centre building as part of phase one of the project.
This phase will be completed with the return of the site in the interim to a temporary car park facility providing parking provision for staff and students.
Work will then begin in earnest to progress phase 2 encompassing the consultation, design and build aspects of the project.
Brian Doran, Principal and Chief Executive of the Southern Regional College, said: “This is an exciting development for Southern Regional College, the city of Newry and beyond as it will provide increased Further and Higher Education training and skills opportunities for our citizens.
“As we move further into 2021, these expansion plans for our Newry campus are very much welcome and positive news for everyone. This campus development, fully funded by the Department for the Economy, will further complement
our existing estates portfolio, as we have successfully opened the doors to students at our new £35m Armagh Campus and new £15m Banbridge Campus in September 2020.
“I would like to thank the Department for their continued support and also to place on record my thanks to Council Officers who have worked diligently with College staff in order to ensure that this strategic site will now form part of the College’s future development plans.”
Mr Doran added: “I would like to also reassure our local residents and businesses that during the demolition and construction phase of this project, we will seek to ensure that every effort is made to keep any disruption to an absolute minimum.
“We look forward to engaging with our local community and stakeholders throughout the design and development phases of this exciting new Newry Campus expansion and we eagerly await the opportunity to initiate the consultation process for this project later this year.”
Economy Minister Diane Dodds commented: “I am delighted that this unique opportunity to rationalise Southern Regional College’s estate in Newry has been realised with the site acquisition signalling the exciting start of centralisation of the College’s facilities in the city.
“The new building will greatly enhance the existing provision at the adjoining campus by significantly improving the College’s curriculum provision, service delivery, student experience and equality of opportunity through improved accessibility.
“The progression of this project further demonstrates the College and my Department’s ongoing commitment to deliver a modern, economically-focused curriculum in state-of-the-art facilities.”
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Laura Devlin confirmed the sale of former Newry Sports Centre to Southern Regional College: “It is great to see this project happening and that Southern Regional College has purchased the former Newry Sports Centre at Patrick Street, Newry from Council.
“Supporting our local education sector is more important than ever. Despite the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, this project is an excellent example of how we can work with our education partners within the district.
“In 2020, Council launched its’ Regeneration and Economic Development Strategy, of which Skills and Employability is a key pillar. This new campus development will see the regeneration of this area of Newry and will bring real economic and skills benefits into its Newry campus.
“The investment will support the direct delivery of high quality professional and technical education and new employment opportunities for local citizens right across the district area, which in turn will help local businesses source the skilled staff they need.”