£8million revamp for Otley college

AMBITIOUS proposals for an £8 million facelift for a successful Suffolk college are set to get under way next month.Contractors are due to start work on the first project in the blueprint for the future of Otley College – a new state-of-the-art equine centre.

AMBITIOUS proposals for an £8 million facelift for a successful Suffolk college are set to get under way next month.

Contractors are due to start work on the first project in the blueprint for the future of Otley College – a new state-of-the-art equine centre.

The centre is thought to be the first of its kind in the county and will enable the college to extend and improve a range of courses now offered for those studying horse-related sports and industry.

Later in the year, it is hoped to start work on a new construction block for students studying general construction or specialising in carpentry and joinery, brick and blockwork, roofing, wet trades or civil engineering.

Detailed plans for both projects have been submitted to Suffolk Coastal council.

College spokesman John Nice said: "Being able to start work on the equine centre in March is just fantastic news for the college and the whole rural community of Suffolk.

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"It's part of our ongoing commitment to rural diversification, and also our commitment to modernising and improving the college to offer our students the very best facilities and courses available.

"Most people still think of Otley as an agricultural college, but today our courses are wide and varied, and we have adapted and changed as agriculture and the rural economy has adapted and changed in recent years."

The equine centre is an example of diversification in the countryside which has seen equitation and equestrian sports grow as popular leisure activities that encompass racing, driving, dressage, horse trials, show jumping and riding for pleasure.

The equine industry has become one of the top three land-based employers, not just in practical horse care, but also supporting industries such as feed and stable supplies, health care, farriery, transportation, saddlery and training.

Officials at Otley College – which stands on a 12-hectare site in Charity Lane – have drawn up a comprehensive masterplan showing how it will expand over the next five years as student numbers grow.

The college currently has about 6,000 sq metres of teaching space. After the first development phase this will increase to 15,782 sq m including a new library and IT centre. For the first time it will take boarders with a 75 bedroom residential block planned.

Plans also include new starter units for fledgling businesses, and a community sports facility including football, rugby and cricket pitches, and pavilion, and new car park with a separate entrance and exit further along the B1078.

Longer term expansion will see the campus expand to 20,000 sq m by 2018.

In drawing up the plans, the college consulted more than 200 organisations and businesses on its future role.

n. What do you think of the expansion? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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