Government Ministers have announced that they are awarding £118m of local growth fund investment to the M3 Local Enterprise Partnership this week and £2.6 million of this has been earmarked for a Technology and Skills Centre at Andover College. The Centre is to be designed to allow the College to focus on engineering and other technologies directly related to local employers.
This £2.6m funding is conditional on the College securing cash and match funding equivalent to £3.8 million.
Principal Tim Jackson commented on the opportunity the investment provides, seeing it as a real boost to the College which would enable further growth in the range of local employer provision and supporting the growth in student numbers, which have already doubled since 2007. He said: “Of course we are extremely pleased to have been awarded government funding which will allow us to make this Technology Centre a reality on our campus and build on our track record of success. However, the concern that our Board will be discussing, is that this will still require the College to add to our bank lending at a time of increasing uncertainty of future government revenue streams. However, if Test Valley Councillors were to include the Littlebridge development in their Local Plan, the College could benefit from the release of £10 million of assets which would allow this project to happen without further significant borrowing. This would allow us to make this and many other investments in our facilities that will benefit the town and employers for years ahead without having to get further into debt which adds to our risk.”
Mr Jackson, has written to local councillors directly, urging them to include the redevelopment of the Littlebridge land within the Local Plan, which is being decided in the next two weeks. He has emphasised the urgency of the situation as this opportunity is unlikely to reoccur and would considerably benefit the whole town. He added: “We are a highly successful college with very high standards endorsed by Ofsted, which rated all of our teaching outstanding or good. It’s our aim to provide Andover with an outstanding college for the future with the facilities to match.”
Geoff French, Chair of Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, commented: “This funding is excellent news for the Enterprise M3 area. Not only will it strengthen the investment in training, helping young people to capitalise on the area’s science and technology credentials, but it also reinforces the confidence government has in our ability to action the various projects we have received funding for. We hope the investment in skills and education will help to create business leaders and innovators of the future.”