Contractor appointed for new £45m Northern Regional College campus

Heron Bros Ltd has been appointed as lead contractor to develop a new £45million campus for Northern Regional College in Ballymena.

Located at Farm Lodge, the new campus will see teaching at the college’s existing sites at Farm Lodge, Trostan Avenue and the Lamont Building in the town consolidated onto one state-of-the-art campus.

Initial preparatory work is expected to begin this month, with construction onsite commencing in June 2022. The new campus is due to be operational for the start of term in September 2024 with all works, including the new car park, fully complete for December 2024.

Pictured outside Northern Regional College’s Farm Lodge campus in Ballymena are (l-r) Kieran Mooney, NRC Projects Director; Ken Nelson, Chair of NRC Governing Body; John Findlay, Director, McAdam; Mel Higgins, NRC Principal and Chief Executive; Karl McKillop, Construction Director, Heron Bros; Gillian McConnell, NRC Governor; Economy Minister Gordon Lyons; Damien O’Callaghan, Group MD, Heron Bros; and Sean Laverty, NRC Acting Chief Operating Officer.

Speaking after visiting the site, the Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “I am delighted that Heron Bros Ltd has been appointed as the lead contractor to develop this new campus for Northern Regional College.

“The new campus will consolidate teaching onto one site of more than 17,600m2 in Ballymena, to deliver an even better learning experience for students. This £45million project, fully funded by my Department, is part of a wider £85million investment in Northern Regional College to include the redevelopment of its Coleraine campus.”

The Minister continued: “The delivery of this world-class learning environment will help to achieve the aims of my Department’s 10X Economic Vision, equipping learners with the skills they need for the constantly evolving jobs market and building on Northern Ireland’s successes on the global stage. It will also help ensure that further education colleges are at the forefront of the drive to meet the evolving and wide ranging demands of a modern economy.

Looking at the plans for the new Ballymena campus for Northern Regional College are Karl McKillop, Construction Director, Heron Bros; Economy Minister Gordon Lyons; and Gillian McConnell, NRC Governor.

“This capital investment is excellent news not only for the college and its learners, staff and wider community, but also for the local construction industry and associated supply chain, with over 150 new construction jobs to be created and a further 300 sustained during the building phase of the new Ballymena campus.

“Along with these full-time jobs, over 1,350 weeks of employment and training will be provided through traineeships, apprenticeships and Higher Level Apprenticeships (HLAs) across a range of construction-related trades.”

Innovation Zone

The new Farm Lodge campus will feature a flexible ‘innovation zone’ that can be adapted for a wide range of activities, including cross-curriculum project-based learning, conferences and performances.

In addition, the new campus facilities will offer extensive advanced technology workshops, CAD teaching and support facilities.

Mel Higgins, Principal and Chief Executive of Northern Regional College, commented: “Having made such fantastic progress on our new Coleraine campus in recent months, we are excited to take this important step forward in the plans for our new Ballymena campus and look forward to working with Heron Bros Ltd on the project. I would like to extend the college’s thanks to the Department for the Economy for their continued investment in our estate as we seek to deliver the aims and objectives of its 10X Economic Vision.   

“The appointment of Heron Bros Ltd takes us a step closer to realising our ambitious vision to create a world-class learning environment for our students across two state-of-the-art campuses, equipping them with the skills to enter the workforce, making Northern Ireland a more productive economy, and to further enhance our ability to welcome and serve our local communities in Ballymena and Coleraine.”