THE new Northampton College building in the town centre has been described as “a premier education venue” by the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning.
Minister John Hayes MP visited the college’s Lower Mounts site yesterday to unveil a plaque to mark the official opening of the new building which includes a state-of-the-art hairdressing salon and a fine dining restaurant.
Mr Hayes said: “People want to be taught in the right kind of environment and make sure the experience of teaching is related to the real world.
“This is a premier education venue which will enable training that is authentic and interacts with the real world.
“I’m absolutely delighted to play a small part in celebrating the success of the new building.”
The Lower Mounts site has been open to students since last September and the restaurant – The Albero – has already become popular with the general public.
Northampton College Principal Len Closs said: “The students really appreciate the new building and the quality is second to none.
“The restaurant and the hairdressing salon offer training opportunities alongside professional staff. When you talk to the students they all tell me they love studying here.”
Conservative MP for Northampton South Brian Binley said he hoped the new building would “inspire” the students.
He said: “This is all part of an aim to get more people in training and in employment.
“This facility will inspire young people and give them a real impetus to achieve their aspirations.”
The Lower Mounts building also hosts a skills centre, which offers a job club in dedicated facilities designed to help the unemployed gain skills and find work.
The redevelopment of the town centre site is part of an £85 million building project which also includes the Booth Lane site.
The final phase of building work at Booth Lane is now under way and is due to be completed by next July.
The new 22,000 square metre building at Booth Lane includes a circular-shaped library, incorporating study areas, computer suites and latest resources, a professional theatre space, underground sound recording booths with latest professional recording equipment, and automotive spray booths.
It also has dance studios with sprung flooring, new photographic laboratories, a high- ceiling restaurant and a circular-shaped cafeteria.
The building also includes the latest sustainable, energy-efficient technology and facilities such as a helical wind turbine, photovoltaic solar panels, green sedum roofing and biomass boilers
Mr Closs added: “Together with our recent move into Phase 1 of the new building at Booth Lane, Northampton College is experiencing an exciting period. We are extremely grateful for the support we have been given by the Skills Funding Agency and for the hard work and professionalism of our architects.”