Southern Regional College has appointed Newry-based Felix O’Hare and Company Limited to spearhead the new £35m campus development in Armagh, which, on completion in 2020, will facilitate students and staff in a brand new state-of-the-art facility.
Construction work will start this month on the new project at Lonsdale Road, which, at its peak, will create 200 jobs including 25 apprenticeship opportunities across a range of skills.
The project represents one of the largest education construction contracts granted in Northern Ireland this year.
Designed by WYG Group, planning permission was approved earlier this year for the new Armagh campus, which features around 12,000 sqm of specialist accommodation and is designed to facilitate world class professional and technical education and training.
SRC, in conjunction with the Department for the Economy, plans to invest around £95million on developing three new campuses at Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon over the next four years.
SRC Chief Executive, Brian Doran, said: “The construction of a new flagship campus in Armagh is key to our commitment to help move people in to new jobs and for those who are already in employment into better jobs.
“The new campus will help unlock the potential and ambition of current and future generations as well as supporting the delivery of a range of services and knowledge transfer activities that will allow local businesses to prosper and grow.”
Beverley Harrison, Director of Further Education at the Department for the Economy, said: “The new Armagh campus will deliver first class facilities and accommodation for students and staff at Southern Regional College while enhancing the education, skills and employability of our young people.
“The Further Education sector plays an important role in building a skilled workforce and supporting economic development. This planned investment of £95 million demonstrates the importance we place on improving skills and employability across the region.”
Recognising the wider economic impact of the project, Beverley added: “The construction of this new flagship facility in Armagh will provide a significant boost to the local construction industry, supporting employment as well as providing valuable training and development opportunities for apprenticeships.
“It is great to see that work on this £35 million project is about to get underway following the appointment of a local contractor.”
Managing Director of Felix O’Hare and Company Limited, Gerry Gray, said: “We worked hard to deliver a proposal that guarantees the new Armagh campus will create a legacy of achievement for all communities. With our teams preparing to move onsite, we look forward to working closely with our colleagues at SRC.”
Gerry Gray added: “Our success is down to our commitment to deliver sustainable, innovative and cost-effective projects which maximise energy efficiency, reduce carbon and sit well in their environment.”
Transitional arrangements were confirmed for this year’s term start in September, including an investment of £600,000 in the temporary facility at the former St Brigid’s High School.