The future of further education in the Falkirk area is now secure after Forth Valley College’s new £83 million campus was given the green light.
Now the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council has approved the full business case for the Falkirk HQ, the development will be going out to tender for the construction work, which is scheduled to commence in September 2017 with the building expected to open in 2019.
The new state-of-the-art facility will be located on the college’s former Middlefield site on Grangemouth Road, Falkirk, and will serve as Forth Valley College’s headquarters, complementing the Alloa campus which opened in 2011 and the Stirling campus which followed in 2012.
FVC principal Dr Ken Thomson said: “Now the full business case has been approved, the green light has been given for us to put the plans out to tender so we can begin the process of choosing who should build, what will be a fantastic new campus, a wonderful learning environment and a legacy building that Falkirk and Scotland as a whole will be proud of.
“All going well we should be looking at work starting in September 2017 with a completion date in August 2019. Situated close to the inspirational and innovative Kelpies, the Helix Park and the Falkirk Stadium, the new campus will also further enhance what has developed into one of Scotland’s most vibrant economic and cultural hubs.
“It really is exciting times for further education in the Forth Valley area and we are delighted to be leading the way and showing that we are living up to our dynamic and inspirational mission statement of Making Learning Work.”
Over 410 members of staff are expected to be based at the campus which will also welcome around 2000 full-time students per year.
Provision will link with local employment opportunities with a strong focus on science and engineering.
There will also be advanced level courses in computing, construction, sport, hairdressing, beauty therapy, healthcare and early years.
The new campus will include modern, flexible and technology-enabled spaces and will boast industry standard workshops, laboratories and classrooms.
It will also have a learning resource centre, food outlets, hair and beauty salons, conference space and sports facilities. In addition, the campus will be built with sustainability in mind.
Councillor Craig Martin, leader of Falkirk Council, said: “We welcome news the business case for the new campus has been given the go ahead. This is a significant
investment in the Falkirk area and will provide a modern, high tech facility for students locally and further afield.”
John Kemp, interim chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, added: “In just over six years Forth Valley College has been able to build new, state-of- the-art
campuses in Alloa, Stirling and now Falkirk.
“This announcement means that all of the college’s 14,500 students will soon be learning in modern and inspiring buildings. I am pleased SFC has been able to play a key role in making this happen.”
Award winning architectural firm Reiach and Hall has been appointed to design the new campus. The Edinburgh firm also masterminded the design of the college’s Alloa and Stirling
When Reiach and Hall were appointed last year, Dr Thomson said: “They have a superb reputation and we are very pleased to have them on board for Falkirk. The tender process was very competitive, but we are confident Reiach and Hall are the best candidates to help us realise our vision for the future of Forth Valley College.
“They have already proved their worth with the excellent design and completion of our campuses in Alloa and Stirling - on time and on budget - and we are very confident they will do the same for our Falkirk HQ.”
The build was approved by Scottish finance secretary John Swinney in October 2014 as part of a £140 million spend by the Scottish Government on further education shared between Forth Valley and Fife.
This week Mr Swinney said: “I am delighted that the new Falkirk campus for Forth Valley College has been approved and that students and staff will get the new state-of-the-art facility they need and deserve.
“This government is committed to providing excellent college facilities across the country to enable the delivery of high quality learning and training, with over £550 million invested in the estate since 2007.”
Plans for the eagerly anticipated Falkirk campus have been in the pipeline since 2013 and a year later, when FVC marked its 50th anniversary, the 33-year-old Middlefield site was cleared with all staff and students moving to the main Weir building in Grangemouth Road.
The Falkirk College of Technology building, which opened in 1981, was demolished and reduced to rubble over the first few months of 2015 to make way for the new development.
Dr Thomson said: “We intend to have an iconic facility which we are sure will impress everyone as they enter Falkirk – they will see The Helix, Falkirk Stadium and then Forth Valley College, all clear indicators of the investment in this area.
“This is the beginning of a new chapter. These are exciting times for the college and the local community.”