The proposed new arts building

New vision for skills in the community on the way

A new vision for creativity and skills in Somerset is on the horizon as Somerset College were last night granted permission to build stunning new centres.

Taunton Deane Borough Council granted planning permission to Somerset College for a new Arts and Design Centre, Construction and Motor Vehicle Centre, Sports Hall and Nursery.

Principal Rachel Davies said: ‘This is an extremely exciting time to be at Somerset College. Four years ago we built the eye-catching Atrium building. Now we are matching it with four new buildings that will complete the campus.

‘The new buildings are not just for the College or the students. They are also for the community. Employers' skills needs will be met through students having access to the latest facilities and the best tutors.

‘The centres will help to expand university provision in Taunton, and meet some of Project Taunton's goals. The new centres will allow us to improve our already great course provision. This will ensure students, and consequently the community, have the highest possible skill levels and reach their full potential.'

The new Arts and Design building will include state-of-the-art studios, industrial standard technical centres to support the creative industries sector, large multipurpose multimedia exhibition gallery space and a black box space for performances, film shows, lectures and multimedia presentations. Each studio will be glass fronted, transforming them into mini theatres of their own. The building will also include many meeting areas for students to gather to discuss ideas and think creatively.

Chris Taylor, Head of Arts and Design at Somerset College, said: ‘This is a wonderful opportunity for us to create a landmark arts and design centre the community, Taunton and Somerset can be truly proud of. The centre dramatically supports and reflects the town's vision and ambition to be a major regional cultural and business hub.'

The new Construction and Motor Vehicle centre will utilise cutting edge technologies to educate students to the highest possible commercial level. Construction disciplines will be catered for in the new building with ample space for teaching and building work. The new building is being designed to meet employers' skills needs by producing students of high quality that are ready and willing to work in industry.

Barbara Bennett, Head of Construction at Somerset College, said: ‘The new centre will give us the flexibility that each discipline requires. We will be able to meet the highest commercial requirements within the College, and ensure a stream of highly trained individuals into the industries.

‘The flexibility of the new building will enable us to adapt to changes in industry and keep at the forefront of education and training for Construction. Students will be able to be involved as our own construction project unfolds on site. What better learning experience could there be?'

The new buildings will be sustainable and will herald the dawn of a new era at Somerset College.

Rachel said: ‘Students who come to study at Somerset College will not be affected by the changes. The new Construction building will be built next to the award winning Genesis building, fostering even better links with businesses. The new Arts and Design building will be built directly adjacent to the old building.

‘Applications for vocational qualifications have doubled in the last five years. We need to improve our facilities to meet the needs of students and ensure they have the best possible chance of finding employment once they finish their education.'

The new Arts and Design building is scheduled to open in 2011. The new Construction and Motor Vehicle building, Sports Hall and Nursery are scheduled to open in 2012.