The new £16 million Gloucestershire College campus in the Forest of has opened to welcome hundreds of students.
The eagerly-anticipated new campus forms a major part of the Cinderford Northern Quarter regeneration project and the college says it offers some of the best post-16 education and training facilities in the country.
Staff and students celebrated with ribbon cutting, cake and speeches in the unique touchdown area of the campus, with Barnwood Construction handing over the keys to Gloucestershire College Principal Matthew Burgess and Sandra Tyrrell, Assistant Principal, Forest of Dean campus.
Matthew Burgess, College Principal, said: “After a busy summer of preparation, we are delighted to open our brand new campus on time and to schedule. It gives my staff and I great pleasure to warmly welcome in our Forest students to such a high tech and stunning building and grounds. This new campus has been a long time in the making and I’m extremely proud to now be able to offer these first class educational facilities to the Forest of Dean community. I’d like to thank all our key partners for supporting us and helping make this initiative a reality – Homes England, G First LEP, Forest of Dean District Council and Gloucestershire County Council.”
Assistant Principal Sandra Tyrrell added: “The feedback we have already had from students, parents and members of the local Forest community about our new campus has been incredibly positive. The teaching facilities here are second to none, set alongside modern and vibrant study and relaxation areas. We are delighted to welcome so many students and their families today – we have over 400 students who have already applied to enrol here in Cinderford.”
The lakeside campus boasts big open-plan spaces; commercial facilities and workshops; a touchdown area for large groups and presentations; panoramic views over the stunning Steam Mills lake; and a clear belonging with its rural surroundings.
The heart of the campus embodies a community street; a large central space for work and play, lined with commercial, student-run services such as a hair and beauty salon and a restaurant with fantastic panoramic views across the surrounding countryside.
After their enrolment, students and apprentices will begin their studies at the new campus next week, across disciplines including Art and Design, Beauty, Business, Catering, Computing, Construction, Early Years, Foundation Studies, Hairdressing, Health and Social Care, Outdoor Education, and Travel and Tourism.
The £15.8 million campus was the vision of Gloucester-based architects Roberts Limbrick, and made reality by Barnwood Construction. Respect for the local environment was a key consideration, and highlights include installing a perimeter fence to protect rare newts and dormice; a sedum-planted roof; and installing automated window blinds to shield bats from light spill.
Energy efficiency considerations included installing solar panels; using local contractors for the build; compacting and recycling all waste off-site; installing automated LED lighting throughout; installing electric induction technology for cooking; and sealing the building with energy efficient ventilation, cooling and heating.
Alongside on-campus parking, the new Spine Road facilitates easy access to the campus; a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly, tree-lined boulevard served by regular bus services by Stagecoach and Michael’s Travel.