The steel framework which comprises approximately 1,000 tonnes of steel is nearing completion. At its highest point, the building will rise to five storeys, allowing staff and students to enjoy panoramic views to the east over the ECOS landscape towards Slemish. The new Ballymena campus will be ready for learners during the 2025/26 academic year.
The college project will link with the re generation of the former St Patricks Barracks site in Ballymena which is expected to deliver more than £160m investment through a comprehensive, mixed-use housing-led development. A new road infrastructure which is due to open in Summer 2023 will greatly integrate these developments with the town centre.
Sean Laverty, Chief Operating Officer of Northern Regional College, commented: “The construction of the steelwork on site is a ‘milestone moment’ on our journey towards our new state-of-the-art campus in Ballymena.
The facilities within the campus have been aligned to the needs of the local and regional economy, with around 50% of direct teaching space allocated to advanced technologies which will complement the new developments in hydrogen and green environmental provision at Farm Lodge in addition to existing academic strengths in engineering, construction, and robotics.
He added: “Our ambitious vision to create a world-class learning environment in this new campus in Ballymena will not only benefit our students but will enhance our ability to welcome and serve our local community in Ballymena and the surrounding area.”
Acknowledging that residents and businesses in the vicinity of the new campus had been very supportive of the development, he continues,
“We are extremely grateful to them for their support and cooperation throughout the development. Their warm feedback has been a great source of encouragement for everyone involved with the project.”
Louise Watson, Director of Further Education, remarked: “I am delighted to be on site to view the progress that has been made on this new campus for Northern Regional College. This superb accessible to all facility will be a key enabler in the delivery of the Department’s 10X Economic Vision and Skills Strategy to transform Northern Ireland into one of the world’s small elite economies through skills and innovation. Completion of this project will bring a real boost to the economy in the wider Ballymena area, providing access to a cutting-edge teaching and learning environment for all members of the community, enabling them to attain the skills required for the ever evolving jobs market.”