Business leaders and sustainability champions have welcomed news of Northumberland College’s groundbreaking Gen Zero Ashington Campus – designed to be as close as possible to carbon neutral in both construction and operation.
Last year Education Partnership North East (EPNE) revealed a state-of-the-art technical college campus would be developed by the Department for Education (DfE) on a 5.7 acre site on the Wansbeck Business Park.
The college’s plans for the hour glass-shaped site include three buildings which will house an industry standard advanced manufacturing, engineering and construction skills centre; a green transport, automotive and logistics hub; and a technical college including digital classrooms, virtual reality environments, a simulated hospital, employability facilities, a centre for young people with special educational needs, as well as offices, a car park and sports facilities.
The campus will be Gen Zero – the first in a new generation of further education buildings designed to be ultra low carbon in both construction and operation.
Now leaders, including the Chief Executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) Helen Golightly OBE, have welcomed the pioneering development.
Helen said: “Creating and investing in green jobs is one of the ways we’ll grow the economy in the North East. Projects of this scale and ambition demonstrate how, as a region, we’re coming together to address the challenge of decarbonisation, whilst at the same time investing in the skills our workforce needs to unlock the economic benefits of net zero.
“Our locally-led, place-based approach to net zero, through the formation of Net Zero North East England, will result in better economic outcomes for our region.”
Heidi Mottram, Chair of Net Zero North East England and Vice Chair at NELEP added, said: “The North East is driving forward a comprehensive regional approach to tackling the climate emergency through Net Zero North East England; a collaboration between local government, business, education, the public sector and civil society to create a greener, fairer, and more sustainable economy.
“Northumberland College’s plans to deliver its new Ashington Campus as a ‘Gen Zero’ project demonstrates the level of commitment in our region to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to national and global net zero targets.”
Katrina Appleyard, Innovation Manager for Sustainability at regional tech network Dynamo North East and the Innovation SuperNetwork, added: “Innovation is key to helping us successfully tackle the sustainability challenge and to help the global community meet our net zero goals.
“This development is a real showcase of how innovating architectural design by utilising forward-thinking technology can result in an exciting development with innovation you can not only see, but touch and experience. Ashington’s campus will be both an example and a living experiment for how the North East can lead in the development of carbon neutral construction, and importantly provides an exciting environment within which to educate the next generation of young people.”
Coun Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “We’re delighted at the progress on this flagship educational facility and its aspirations to be as close as possible to carbon neutral.
“A state-of-the-art campus in the centre of Ashington will be a real boost not just for Northumberland College but the whole of the town and the wider area. The ambitions of Northumberland College reflect those of the county as a whole and we’re looking forward to continuing to help them as this scheme moves forward.”
Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive of EPNE, said: “We wanted our new Ashington Campus to play into the region’s net zero ambitions, but our Gen Zero designs take it to the next level.
“Our new Ashington Campus won’t just be a wonderful environment where our students can learn and our staff can work, it will also play an important role in the Government’s Levelling Up agenda. The skills agenda and a well-trained workforce aligned to the needs of local economies are fundamental to the success of Levelling Up. There’s no doubt our college of the future will make an important contribution in that direction – as well as helping to save the planet.”
To reduce its carbon footprint, innovative, sustainable designs and materials along with modern methods of construction will mean the college campus is largely being built and manufactured off site before being assembled in Ashington.
External spaces will be just as important as the internal spaces at the new campus, with the landscape surrounding the buildings incorporating major tree planting (which will act as solar screening) and rain gardens, while pathways will be made of carefully chosen sustainable materials.
Architects Race Cottam are designing the campus while leading UK construction company Bowmer + Kirkland has been appointed to build the development.
We are the largest further education provider in Northumberland with campuses throughout the county.
Our student transport scheme is available for eligible students to make getting to and from college as easy as possible.
Our extensive re-development programme will create outstanding new facilities.
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