Work on a new state of the art college at the South Lakes in Craigavon has been stalled while a number of legal challenges.
The latest challenge by Save Craigavon City Park and Lakes, a judicial review, failed last week.
Upper Bann MLA and former Economy Minister Diane Dodds asked her successor Gordon Lyons MLA if, in light of the outcome of the judicial review, whether he intends to proceed with the new build college building.
Mr Lyons said: “My Department and I welcome the very clear judgement in this case and remain fully supportive of this key project. The new building, to replace the ageing facilities at Lurgan and Portadown, will deliver an outstanding student experience and an unrivalled local environment for learning, teaching and collaboration with local businesses. Southern Regional College is taking steps to enable progression of the project and officials will be working closely with the College to progress towards delivery at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Mrs Dodds said: “I am delighted that we now have a clear pathway to building a new further education college in Craigavon. There have been plans to replace the ageing facilities on the Lurgan and Portadown campus of the SRC with a brand new college for a number of years. These plans were well progressed but hit a stumbling block when the planning application was subject to judicial review. The outcome of the judicial review should now clear the way for the new college to progress.
“I tabled an urgent question to the minister this week and he has confirmed the department’s commitment to the new college. This is very good news for our local area. The Portadown and Lurgan college buildings are now old and not fit for purpose. All of those who want to continue in education deserve the best facilities. In the last year I opened the new college building in Armagh where an investment of 35 million by the Department for the Economy has transformed the facilities for young people and those who want to progress on their education journey. An investment of £15m in the Banbridge campus has provided state of the art facilities. It is now time for the same to happen for the Lurgan and Portadown sites. The projected investment is £50m and I look forward to working with the college and the minister to deliver this important facility.”
DUP Group Leader on Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council Cllr Mark Baxter said: “I am pleased that the judicial review into the planning application has now been reported on and hope that this will mean that those who wish to continue in education or improve their job prospects will soon be able to do so in a state of the art complex where the most modern facilities will be available.
“Young people and the community in Lurgan and Portadown deserve the best. With a huge investment in the Armagh and Banbridge sites and a new college in Craigavon ABC council area will have the best facilities available. This is vitally important for growing the local economy and prosperity for our community.”