£76 million deal sees replacement for TAC building and upgraded facilities for Tameside College

  • New Camp Street campus for ‘A’ Level and Media students;
  • Son of TAC to incorporate new offices for Tameside MBC and classrooms for vocational courses;
  • Beaufort Road campus to be upgraded;
  • Clarendon Road and Stockport Road centres to be sold off to finance deal.

The fate of Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council’s TAC building has been sealed thanks to a £76 million deal. In 2015, Tameside College will return to Ashton-under-Lyne town centre twenty years after the sale of its Warrington House centre near The Station public house. Known as VisionTameside, it will see a return to the college’s roots with the new base close to Warrington House and the Heginbottom Institute, adjacent to Ashton Central Library.

As part of a three phase project, Tameside College propose to build two new campuses in the town centre. The second phase will see the opening of the Advanced Skills Centre and Joint Service Centre, which will be shared with Tameside College, Wilkinson and Tameside MBC, on the site of the TAC building. Originally, Tameside MBC had plans to move to a newly built cheaper building off Old Cross Street. The Beaufort Road centre will also be refurbished and upgraded.

The project will be financed by the sale of Tameside College’s Clarendon Road and Stockport Road sites. £15 million of the project will be financed by Tameside MBC. It is claimed that Son of TAC would save its Council Tax Payers £15 million over a decade, compared with running costs for the 1981 building. There will also be additional funding from the Skills Funding Agency with confirmation of the grant by November this year. All new buildings, particularly so with Phase Two, will be more energy efficient.

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Phase One: opening of Advance Learning Centre off Albion Way and Camp Street in September 2015. Landscaping around area and closure of Camp Street car park. This development will see the Digital and Creative Skills and Performing Arts studios move from Beaufort Road. ‘A’ Level provision will move from Clarendon Road. This development will not affect The Ladysmith, The Ash Tree and The Engine Room public houses. Facilities will include 200 seat theatre, high speed broadband and direct connections with MediaCityUK.

Phase Two: demolition of TAC building and opening of temporary store for Wilkinson. Advanced Skills Centre and Joint Service Centre set to open in September 2017. Advanced Skills Centre set to become a home for vocational courses such as hair and beauty, hospitality and catering, bakery and confectionery, travel and tourism and business skills. All facilities presently seen in the TAC building set to move, possibly at ground level as of now with the Wilkinson store. New building set to sit alongside former Water Board offices and Ashton Town Hall.

Phase Three: upgrading of Beaufort Road centre. Most incumbent buildings will remain after 2017 though with addition of new block on site of present theatre building. Engineering, construction, motor vehicle, sports, public services and health and social care course will continue to be based there. The Dovestones provision for people with learning difficulties will also benefit from the refurbishment work.

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Peter Ryder, Principal of Tameside College believes the partnership of College and Council will deliver transformational change to the people of Tameside.

“Young people in Tameside deserve to learn in the very best of learning environments. We are making a commitment to ensure that every young person leaving school in Tameside gains access to the very best post 16 provision in outstanding facilities. Tameside College is in the top 3 Further Education Colleges in Greater Manchester and has success rates in the top 10 per cent of providers nationally.

Despite this, every year almost 500 young people leave the borough to study elsewhere. Our new build programmes puts excellent teaching into world class facilities on the doorstep for our young people and communities.”

Councillor Kieran Quinn, Executive Leader of Tameside MBC said “This programme will not only give a massive boost to the Ashton Town Centre economy by bringing in thousands of students and teaching staff, but it will also enable us to complete our plans to redevelop the Town Centre and Market Ground area and make it into a more modern, attractive and convenient place to visit and shop.

“It will also mean that we can replace the ageing Council administrative building that is too large for our needs, no longer fit for purpose and too expensive to run with a smaller, more efficient building that we will share with other partners, and which will enable us to provide a more joined service to residents. This new building will cost significantly less to construct than it would cost to refurbish the existing council building and will be cheaper to run.”

Councillor Gerald Cooney, Executive Member for Learning, Skills and Economic Growth said “I am delighted by these plans. They build on the investment that the Council has already made, and is continuing to make in primary and secondary schools across Tameside. This year we have seen our young people achieve their best ever examination results. There is no doubt that this success was helped in part by the fantastic learning facilities that they enjoyed, and I am sure that as a result of the college investing in their new advanced learning centres we will see our young people go on to achieve even better Further and Higher education results.”

“The key to Tameside’s long-term future economic success is investing in its young people. We have to ensure that they have the rights opportunities, skills, aptitude and aspirations and I believe that VisionTameside will deliver for us on all these fronts.”

The new plans are set to be a worthy addition to the borough of Tameside, and the timing of which couldn’t be better. It will increase footfall into Ashton-under-Lyne which is likely to benefit its shops and market. Perhaps in 2020, we could see the bakery department taking up a stall in the indoor market, or serving their wares on Farmers’ Market day. Local shoppers shunning the stylists’ rates could have their hair done for less at the ASC by students. Older students could learn a new skill and call in to the Welcome Inn for a quick coffee beforehand.

As for public transport connections, absolutely faultless with train, tram and bus stations, and the Wellington Road taxi rank within five minutes walk of the new complex. Ashton’s public houses would also welcome the extra footfall with The Ladysmith, The Engine Room, The Ash Tree and The Bowling Green a short walk from campus.

Though the buildings are less likely to win architectural prizes and stray little from the TAC’s design, its eventual functions will far outweigh that.

For further details including 3d visualisations, visit the VisionTameside website. If you have any comments on the plans, feel free to do so on their website or on – as usual – East of the M60.

S.V., 17 October 2013.

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