The development will see a new education facility, operated by Boston College, built alongside a public sector hub that will be home to East Lindsey District Council and partner organisations.
Having gained planning permission last year, works are now underway after confirmation that Boston College has successfully secured £1,231,490 for the college campus aspect of project from the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership as part of the Government’s Getting Building Fund.
Simon Telfer, HR and logistics director, Branston Ltd and chair of the LEP’s employment and skills advisory panel, said: “The Greater Lincolnshire LEP is delighted to be supporting this new education suite being operated by Boston College which will link training provision to the requirements of local employers and adults in Horncastle and the surrounding area.”
“The £1.2m Getting Building Fund Skills Capital Programme investment in bespoke facilities and curriculum provision on site will be targeted towards courses that meet the skills gaps in the Greater Lincolnshire Economic Plan – for example, digital skills, business skills, support to adult learners (post-19 year olds) and specialist apprenticeships– meeting the needs and demands of key sectors.”
Representatives from ELDC, Boston College, LEP and councillors met at the site as work began.
Speaking to The Horncastle News on Monday, Simon added: “We are such a huge county and it is all about making education accessible for adult learners.
“As it stands, people have to travel to either Boston or Skegness.
“Having something on your doorstep which is quite agile gives that provision without people having to worry about how they are going to get there.”
Speaking at the site on Monday, leader of East Lindsey District Council, Councillor Craig Leyland, said: “First of all can I thank you all for being here on this really quite exciting day for East Lindsey, for Horncastle, for Boston College, for GLEP our funding partners, and also a warm welcome to Walmart Dixon.
“A very generous thank you to you all for your time and interest.
“This has been a long time coming together .
“The diggers are here, the teams are here to make it all happen and all the partners are here who are integral to making this happen today.
“We look forward to walking into a new building in a couple of years’ time with students and councillors here, and the benefits to Horncastle being evident at that point.”
Councillor Leyland also explained that East Lindsey, and Horncastle in particular, have a skills deficit in terms of provision.
He added: “The project will be fantastic for Horncastle and the district.
“A study conducted by Lincolnshire County Council did show there was a particular issue around the Horncastle area so Boston College being on board is fantastic.
“It means they can do bespoke courses in terms of business and what is needed locally and that has to be a good thing.
“The more skilled a population we have, the better job opportunities that can be created.
“We are also very pleased to be moving here from a council perspective.”
Councillor Leyland said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic staff have been working from home and this agile approach to working is set to continue in the future, but with the hub as a ‘landing place’.
The college campus, which will comprise four classrooms and a digital innovation computer-based classroom, will create new learning opportunities in digital skills for individuals aged 16 and over.
Access to further and higher education within East Lindsey is currently limited and, by introducing a more accessible provision, local businesses will be able to readily access training to meet their skills needs, helping them to grow, increase productivity, and add value to the local economy.
Kay Burge, who runs Horncastle Recruitment, was also present on Monday.
Speaking to The News, Kay said : “It is really positive – it is the first time there has been a big investment of this level put into the town.
“It is about being able to upskill our local workforce and develop skills that we don’t necessarily have in the town and it will bring more opportunities and more jobs to the town which is exactly what we want.”
Boston College is looking forward to working alongside the district council to deliver this exciting project.
In a statement last week, Claire Foster, principal and CEO of Boston College, said: “Boston College is delighted to be part of this exciting new investment in Horncastle.
“Our college’s purpose is to support the development of skills and the opportunities that education and training bring for people and prosperity.
“We look forward to working with our local communities to do just that – within a high-quality facility and in this beautiful town.”
Speaking on Monday, Claire added: “We are in the planning stages of our curriculum but we certainly know that digital skills will be a huge focus for us.
“We know that, certainly during the pandemic, it has been recognised that there is a massive deficit in skills – even for people that are in the workforce.
“Even the simplest things like filling in online application forms can be a huge challenge for people.
“We are also considering how we can support businesses.
“We know that many small and medium-sized businesses need help in order to grow their business through marketing, communication and building an online presence.
“As we know Lincolnshire is a big county, so by having a site in Horncastle we can engage people much closer to where they live to enable them to access learning.
“Sometimes it is those baby steps that people need to get back into education and we want to facilitate them with this campus.”
The project has also been welcomed by Horncastle Town Council.
Speaking last week, Horncastle mayor, Councillor Fiona Martin, said: “I am very pleased to see the start of this development which will bring much-needed college facilities to Horncastle as well as moving East Lindsey’s headquarters into our market town.
“This will make both Boston College and East Lindsey services more accessible to local people and more central to our district as well as making use of a currently underused site.
“I am looking forward to the opening of the new facilities in September 2022.”
Deputy mayor, Councillor Brian Burbidge, was one of those present at the site on Monday.
Speaking to The News, Councillor Burbidge said: “It has been a long wait and it is going to be really good for Horncastle.
“Horncastle needed this .
“We wish it well because it is a fantastic joint enterprise between the college and ELDC.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for businesses in the town.
“It is a 10 minute walk to get into the centre of Horncastle.
“Horncastle Town Council is delighted and pleased that this is taking place and really look forward to it opening up.”
Alongside the college, the development will include office accommodation for East Lindsey District Council and its partners.
The district council has already allocated £6.23m to the development, which will transform the way it does business and result in the sale of both Tedder Hall, Manby, and Skegness Town Hall for redevelopment.
Both buildings are expensive to operate, require significant investment and are too big for the council’s requirements, with the sale of both sites, and the more efficient operation of the new building, the development will be cost neutral over 15 years.
East Lindsey District Council has appointed Willmott Dixon to oversee the construction of the hub.
The contractor will be undertaking a range of initiatives to support the local area over the course of the contract and will be investing 14 per cent of the contract value back into the region.
This will be delivered through community initiatives, such as projects with local university students, careers events with Boston College, as well as using local social enterprises, local businesses and local labour.
Through their ‘Now or Never’ sustainability strategy, Willmott Dixon will also ensure that sustainability is at the heart of the development and one of the first things the contractor will do is collect and recycle materials from the demolition of the existing site.
Speaking on Monday, Neil Truelove, site manager from Willmott Dixon said: “It is very exciting for us to be a part of this scheme, it is exciting for the area and we are pleased to be involved.”
It is anticipated that the district council and its partners will take up occupancy of the building in September 2022.
In a statement last week, Councillor Craig Leyland, leader of East Lindsey District Council, said: “I’m incredibly pleased that works are set to start on this landmark project.
“The new college campus and hub will provide a huge boost to our communities, starting with the development itself and the commitment we’ve seen from Willmott Dixon to invest back into the area.
“We’re also going to be bringing a much-needed education facility to East Lindsey by partnering with Boston College, which will provide our residents with access to quality further and higher education in the district.
“It’ll also prove beneficial to our businesses who will have greater access to individuals with the skills they need to help them grow.
“Our new shared office space will allow us to support our communities through improved service delivery, as we look to work in a more modern and collaborative manner.
“We’re also really happy to be at the heart of one our towns, and we’re keen to link with local businesses to ensure that our move can provide a lift to the town’s high street.”
Victoria Atkins, Member of Parliament for Louth and Horncastle, added: “I am delighted that work has begun on a new further education college andpublic sector hub in Horncastle.
“This exciting development will enhance the further education offer in our market town, providing a range of skills and training opportunities for Horncastle and the surrounding villages.
“The investment in jobs, education and infrastructure through the new college and hub will help boost our local economy, ensuring that Horncastle continues to thrive in the long term and enabling accessible provision for all residents locally.”