The College has been awarded £9,736,000 by the Skills Funding Agency to upgrade its Grade II-listed Yarrow Building, providing new training facilities focused on the priority growth sectors of tourism, creative industries and business.
Graham Razey, principal of East Kent College, said: “This is a significant investment and we are delighted that, depending on planning approval, we are going to be able to turn a historic building into a real-work environment for our students. The new facilities will also provide a large number of apprenticeship places across a much wider range of careers than is currently available.”
A state-of-the-art hotel and hospitality training centre will be built within the Yarrow Building, providing an ideal learning environment for skills relating to event management, hospitality, travel and tourism.
Sandra Matthews-Marsh, chief executive of Visit Kent, said: “This is game-changing news for young people as well as the tourism and hospitality industry in East Kent and right across the county. East Kent College has an outstanding reputation in this field and now they will have the best facilities possible to provide their students with a tremendous training opportunity that will serve them well in their future careers.
“We are looking forward to working even more closely with the students and the college to develop and nurture the highest standards of customer service and delivery which will benefit hotels and hospitality providers in Kent and much farther afield.”
An innovation space for creative industries start-ups, incorporating a business administration academy, will also be developed within the Yarrow Building.
“Our proposals are designed to meet the current and future skills needs of East Kent,” continued Graham Razey. “The catering and hospitality, business services and creative industries sectors are all priorities of growth within the local economy so we are hopeful that Thanet District Council and Kent County Council will support our plans. Initial discussions with the local authority have been very positive.”
Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr Clive Hart, commented: “This is excellent news indeed! Everything about this project supports our district’s objectives and those of East Kent in general. From Thanet’s Destination Management Plan through to our Economic Growth and Regeneration Strategy this project fits every aspiration.
“Excellent training and top class facilities are exactly what people here in East Kent need, particularly our young searching for employment opportunities. Congratulations to Graham Razey and all at East Kent College.”
The project totals £10,700,000 with East Kent College financing the costs not being met by the Skills Funding Agency’s College Capital Investment Fund. As well as the upgrade of the Yarrow Building, which had been designated for disposal due to the level of work required, the funding will also support the redevelopment of several other areas on the Broadstairs campus.
Architects have begun working on plans with the aim of having the new facilities in place by September 2015.
East Kent College will now be applying for planning permission to Thanet District Council.