Work on The Bridge – the third of the Dumfries Learning Town projects – is about to begin with progress having already been made in recent weeks by the partnership of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Hub South West and main contractor GRAHAM Construction.
Planning approval for The Bridge was granted in March, enabling the project to progress on the disused former bowling green at the King George V site in Dumfries.
An innovative community facility, The Bridge will deliver lifelong learning needs in Dumfries for learners across the region. It will be a unique facility, providing learning opportunities beyond those found in traditional education settings such as schools, colleges and universities. It will offer learners of all abilities and aspirations opportunities to pursue career pathways and personal interests.
The Bridge will combine school, theatre, cinema, dance studio, lecture and study space, model restaurant, and craft centre and will evolve as demands emerge. It will be available to individuals and groups that wish to develop new skills, take forward initiatives and enterprises, meet as special interest groups, stage performances, or hold private functions.
Work on the other two Dumfries Learning Town Phase 1 projects – the restoration and modernisation of St Joseph’s College and development of the new NorthWest Campus, a development incorporating a high school, a special secondary school and two primary schools – is already well underway.
Gary Holmes, Regional Director for Graham Construction, said: “Developing emerging talent is at the heart of our company’s ethos and The Bridge will play an important role in progressing this. We’re proud to be participating and working alongside our partners, to make this a reality. The exciting Dumfries Learning Town programme is one of the largest we have undertaken to date for Dumfries and Galloway Council and The Bridge project brings a new and exciting dimension to education.”
Dumfries and Galloway Council Leader, Ronnie Nicholson, said: “The start of work on The Bridge is the final piece in phase one of the transformation of education in Dumfries. Not only does this development bring together academic and vocational opportunities in Dumfries under one roof, it is being developed right in the heart of North West Dumfries, showing the ambition the Council has to support the community and the whole of our town. The next challenge will be to move onto phase two, which will include the refurbishment of Dumfries Academy (Central Campus) and a new Dumfries High School (NorthEast Campus), completing what will be the biggest ever investment in education in Dumfries”.
Councillor Jeff Leaver, Chairman of the Council’s Children, Young People and Lifelong Learning committee, said: “Dumfries Learning Town is vital to the future of children in and around the Dumfries area as we strive to deliver first class educational facilities which are fit for the future purpose in the 21st century. We’re making excellent progress on all our projects, but The Bridge is a key component of the Dumfries Learning Town development. This ground breaking ceremony marks the start of something truly special. The young people of tomorrow will benefit from this fabulous project.”
Michael McBrearty, Hub South West Chief Executive, said: “Dumfries Learning Town is an exciting and ambitious project that hub South West is thrilled to be a part of. With work to modernise St Joseph’s College and develop the new NorthWest Campus well underway, phase 1 of the Dumfries Learning Town is progressing well. The Bridge is a modern and innovative approach to supporting learning for youngsters in the Dumfries area. So it’s fantastic we’re now moving forward rapidly and we’ll be on site within a few weeks.”
Dumfries and Galloway Council has invested more than £71m in phase 1 of Dumfries Learning Town, with £54m funded directly by the Council and £17m funded by the Scottish Government through the Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme.
The Bridge project is scheduled to be completed in the winter of 2018/19.