A new college campus on the site of a former whisky bottling plant has been given the go-ahead.
First Minister Alex Salmond gave ministerial approval in April for Kilmarnock College to start procurement for its campus on the site of the former Johnnie Walker bottling plant in the town.
The last bottle left the factory last month, which ended a 192-year association with the town and left 700 workers redundant. Owner Diageo donated the site to the college which has also received a large investment from Scottish Funding Council, the public body set up to finance education projects. This will enable construction of the £50m campus to begin in August 2013.
Salmond said: “The creation of the new college campus on the former Diageo site will be a fitting example of how further education is key to delivering us from tough economic times.
“Following the closure of the Diageo plant, we must do all we can to create new opportunities for local people.
“Diageo’s proposal to gift its Kilmarnock site to the college has been helpful in crystallising its plans for the future, allowing the college to consolidate its activities on a single, accessible, town centre location.’’ He added: “The Scottish Government is committed to our innovative and creative colleges, which is why we are investing over £2 billion in the sector during the current spending review period, until 2015.’’ College principal Heather Dunk said: “The new college will provide an environment that is inspirational, innovative and sustainable, which will welcome and encourage learners in the future and meet the demands of our key stakeholders and employer partners.’’ Fiona Lees, chief executive of East Ayrshire Council said: “East Ayrshire Council is very proud of its partnership with Kilmarnock College and we have been pleased to fully support the college to secure this tremendously important investment.
“We have also welcomed the donation of the land at the Hill Street site by Diageo, which allows this landmark facility to be located in the heart the town.’’ Scottish Funding Council chief Mark Batho said: “[This] is another important step forward in providing modern, well-designed and inspired new campuses for the next generation of learners. This adds to a portfolio of Funding Council investments that has seen over £500m spent since 2000 with new-build or major improvements in estates at 23 colleges.’’ The new campus is expected to open in January 2016.