Planning permission has been submitted by the Department of Education (DfE) to build an ambitious and transformational college campus for Northumberland College.

The new campus will provide state of the art academic and technical facilities aligned to industry and regional skills priorities, bringing significant economic and education benefits for the county of Northumberland and beyond. Northumberland College is part of Education Partnership North East, the region’s largest further education provider.

The pioneering campus, on a 5.7-acre site on the eastern edge of Wansbeck Business Park in Ashington, Northumberland, will be one of a new generation of government-led educational buildings developed by the DfE with advanced concepts, design standards, net zero and sustainability at the heart of its build and operation.

Plans for the hourglass-shaped site include three buildings incorporating structural designs to enhance sustainability, optimise renewable technologies, meet the challenges of climate change, connect with nature and are designed for health, well-being and the environment.

Innovating in its design, the new college will also house a range of industry standard facilities. A dedicated Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering and Construction Skills Centre will be a centre of excellence in electrical, mechanical, robotics and automation, automotive, green transport, construction, housing, retrofit and wider renewable technologies.

A further building will include academic and technical facilities with curriculum spanning hospital, health, education and childcare, business, tourism, digital and employability. The campus will also incorporate a bespoke new centre for young people with special educational needs and disability.

Wider facilities will include dedicated centre with catering and dining facilities, a learning and skills centre, an impressive lecture theatre, careers and welfare services, specialist labs, workshops and immersive learning environments.

The campus will be built using biophilic principles, a concept used within the construction sector to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment. At the new Ashington Campus, these principles will lead to:

  • Play and adventure: Meaningful and accessible external spaces to improve students’ physical activity.
  • Sensory: Elements that allow sensory experiences through touch, sound and smell.
  • Sanctuary: A space for students to reflect and find inspiration.
  • Learning Landscapes: Spaces to learn in, spaces to learn from about natural processes.
  • Natural World: Element for college students and staff to experience nature and biodiversity.
  • Connecting with nature: Through views, contemplation and actively experiencing semi-natural environments.
  • Materials: The use and combination of materials to enrich the environment and create a distinctive sense of place.

Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive of EPNE, said: “The strategy of our college group is to drive high standards and transformative investment into each of our campuses. Since Northumberland College joined our group, we have been determined to invest in Ashington and to play into the region’s skills and NetZero ambitions. This Gen Zero model takes our ambitions to the next level.

“Our new Ashington Campus won’t just be an inspirational environment where our students can learn and our staff can work, it will also play an important role in our nation’s NetZero ambitions and the Government’s prioritisation of further education and skills aligned to local, regional and UK economy.

“More specifically, this investment strategy is about regenerative place shaping. Once the college is built, we will relocate thousands of college students and staff from our current campus to our new facilities, significantly increasing footfall into the town of Ashington, a move that will undoubtedly support local business and wider economic development.”

To reduce its carbon footprint, innovative, sustainable designs and materials along with modern methods of construction will mean the college campus will largely be built and manufactured off site before being assembled in Ashington.

External spaces will be just as important as the college’s new internal spaces, with the landscape surrounding the buildings incorporating planting strategies (which will act as solar screening) and rain gardens, while pathways will be made of carefully chosen sustainable materials.

Leading UK construction company Bowmer + Kirkland has been appointed under the Department of Education Construction Framework as design & build contractor with Bond Bryan providing their Architectural service.

Planning permission for the state-of-the-art campus has been submitted to Northumberland County Council.

Why Education Partnership North East (EPNE)?

Highly commended - Employer of the Year, Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards 2019

Engagement with Employers - Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award 2017

(Sunderland College On-programme Survey 2017)

Selected by DfE for 2021 T Level pilot to deliver the new high-quality technical qualifications.

98% overall employer satisfaction - Employer Survey 2018/19