Ashford College opens its doors

The first of Ashford’s ‘Big 8’ projects to be completed, the new state-of-the-art £26 million Ashford College campus, has welcomed its first intake of about 900 students.

The town centre campus is a first-class education centre which will help provide a future workforce for one of the fastest growing towns in the south east.

Ashford College is a hugely significant project for Ashford. Not only is it a cornerstone of the drive to regenerate the town centre, but it adds momentum to nearly £700m worth of investment in the area’s retail, education, leisure, commercial, residential and transport sectors.

Modern teaching facilities at the 7,135m² campus include a multi-media learning resource centre, live music production, photography and fine arts studios, teaching kitchens and a hair and beauty salon – as well as an independent living facility.

Phases 1a and 2 will further add a sustainable technologies block providing engineering, plumbing, electrical facilities, motor sport workshops, and facilities for Higher Education students.

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said:

“The new Ashford College Campus now stands proudly in a prominent position on the corner of Elwick Road with the first students already working hard inside.

This first-rate facility will educate and equip students with the necessary knowledge and employment skills needed in the future.

“This exciting project will realise a long held ambition of the council for a high quality learning facility, right in the heart of the town centre. It is the first of the Big 8 major projects to be delivered and will play a key part in our future prosperity.

“It is expected that the new college will increase skills levels and therefore lead to better employment opportunities for the residents of the borough whilst playing a pivotal role, alongside neighbouring development, in rejuvenating the town centre.”

The college, part of the Hadlow Group, harnesses strong links with over 1,500 local employers and businesses, supporting improved educational provision within the borough and enhancing the local skills base, supporting future economic growth and prosperity for residents and businesses.

Rooted in a strong business philosophy, the courses on offer – including health & social care, construction crafts, electrical engineering, early years, music technology, fashion, catering & hospitality, photography, hair & beauty and motor vehicle maintenance – are designed to meet the demands of local employers. Students also gain commercial experience in the college’s on-site facilities open to the public: a hair & beauty salon and planned fine dining restaurant.

A wide variety of courses reflecting the demands of the local economy will be offered, including Apprenticeships and Higher Education programmes, as well as support for those not currently in education, employment or training.

Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, Deputy Group Principal and Deputy CEO at Hadlow College, said:

“We’re delighted to have enrolled our first intake of students. The college is a symbol for the significant regeneration for the town and I’d like to pay tribute to the co-operation, help, advice and support received from the council – a superb example of sectors working together to fulfil a much-needed project.”

Paul Hannan, Hadlow Group Principal and CEO, said:

“The new campus will play a significant part in ensuring our provision complies with the highest standard. It is a real opportunity for our students and future students to learn and train in excellent new facilities.”

First Secretary of State, and Ashford MP, Damian Green added: “It presents great opportunities for local businesses, who will find a pool of skilled people here training to do the jobs of the future – people that we will need to fill vacancies as the town’s economy expands and prospers.”

BAM Construction was the main contractor, the architect was HNW Architects, the quantity surveyor was Bailey Partnership, and the structural engineer and M&E consultants were Ramboll.