PLANS to establish a state-of-the-art engineering centre to support hundreds of students in Ebbw Vale have moved forward after being backed by senior councillors.
Blaenau Gwent council is working with Coleg Gwent on the project to support a vision for the area to be “a globally recognised centre for the development of new technologies” by 2027.
The plans include refurbishment of the former Monwell factory in Letchworth Road, Ebbw Vale, to create an advanced engineering centre.
Senior councillors on the council’s executive committee voiced their support for the proposal at a meeting on Wednesday (April 14) and agreed to endorse a funding bid for the development.
Cllr Dai Davies, the executive member for regeneration and economic development, said the project was “a huge opportunity” for the borough, highlighting the importance of education to bring people out of poverty.
“I think we have got a real opportunity to take a giant leap forward,” he said.
Richard Crook, corporate director of regeneration and community services, said the facility would become “a regional centre of excellence”.
“It would be state-of-the-art and a real flagship to drive forward the skills agenda, particularly in Blaenau Gwent,” he said.
Around 600 learners are expected to attend the centre by 2026/27 on a range of full-time, part-time, higher education and apprenticeship courses, ranging from level one up to degree level.
An investment of £8 million is being sought, with building costs estimated at £5 million.
If funding is approved, it is expected the facility will open in September 2022.
Council leader Cllr Nigel Daniels also spoke in support of the plans.
“I think it can set Blaenau Gwent and the region on a different tack,” he said.
Under the plans, Blaenau Gwent would own the facility and offer a long-term lease to Coleg Gwent, the lead partner in the scheme.
Primary and secondary schools across Blaenau Gwent would also have access to the facility and would be able to have guest lectures, demonstrations and use equipment for project work.
The Tech Valleys board has supported the proposal and has written a letter of recommendation to go alongside a business case that has been submitted to Welsh Government.