FIRST Minister Alex Salmond today announced an exciting new chapter in the history of Kilmarnock College by giving the go-ahead for a new £50 million campus on the site of the former Diageo premises in the town.
Construction of the new campus is expected to begin on site in August 2013.
Other phases of development on the town centre site which saw the Diageo closure are expected to follow the new college project, and to include a mix of business and residential use on the 30-acre site.
Salmond welcomed the development
Speaking during a visit to the current college campus, the First Minister said: “Today’s announcement demonstrates exactly how the Scottish Government is investing in the economy to bring substantial benefits to everyone – here in Kilmarnock, the wider Ayrshire region and right across Scotland.
”The creation of the new College campus on the former Diageo site will be a fitting example of how further education is key to delivering us from tough economic times.
“Following the closure of the Diageo plant, we must do all we can to create new opportunities for local people. Diageo’s proposal to gift its Kilmarnock site to the College has been helpful in crystallising its plans for the future, allowing the College to consolidate its activities on a single, accessible, town centre location.
“With its reputation for providing education, training and service of the highest quality, transferred to its 21st century facilities, the College will provide cutting-edge technologies which will again demonstrate that Scotland’s colleges have a major role to play in our economic recovery.
“The Scottish Government is committed to our innovative and creative colleges, which is why we are investing over £2 billion in the sector during the current spending review period, until 2015.”
Heather Dunk, College Principal, commented: “We are delighted with today’s announcement and the investment being made in the new college which will provide learning and skills development opportunities for future generations in Kilmarnock and the wider Ayrshire community.
“The new college will provide an environment that is inspirational, innovative and sustainable which will welcome and encourage learners in the future and meet the demands of our key stakeholders and employer partners.”
Fiona Lees, Chief Executive of East Ayrshire Council added: “A new £50 million college and wider learning campus for 5,500 students in the heart of the Town, is fantastic news for Kilmarnock.
“We will want our schools to work even more closely with Kilmarnock College to ensure that the young people of East Ayrshire are able to get the maximum possible benefit from this state of the art facility. We will also want to build on Kilmarnock College’s growing reputation as a provider of industry based learning as we take every possible step to grow local companies and the economy of Ayrshire.
“East Ayrshire Council is very proud of its partnership with Kilmarnock College and we have been pleased to fully support the College to secure this tremendously important investment. We have also welcomed the donation of the land at the Hill Street site by Diageo which allows this landmark facility to be located in the heart the Town.”
Mark Batho, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: “Today is another important step forward in providing modern, well-designed and inspired new campuses for the next generation of learners. This adds to a portfolio of Funding Council investments that has seen over £500m spent since 2000 with new build or major improvements in estates at 23 colleges.”