The face of Further Education in Brecon could be on the verge of change and the public will be invited to have their say. Discussions are taking place between Brecon Beacons College (part of the NPTC Group of Colleges) and Powys County Council on developments which will see highly resourced education fit for the 21st century being delivered in the town. It will also see students using all of the local business facilities on a daily basis, boosting the trade of shops and businesses, breathing more life into the Town Centre and contributing to a much needed increase in gross domestic product (GDP).
The College and our Architects have engaged with staff at Brecon Beacons College, to discuss possibilities of moving some courses into the town and community and those talks are on-going. The next phase will now include discussions with students and business users along with a series of events encouraging key engagement with community groups.
The College has already started refurbishment of the former Tourist Information Centre in the town centre which it now leases. The former Tourist Information Centre will be used for enquiries and information along with some course delivery. The Community will be encouraged to use the centre as there will be open ‘High Speed’ internet access.
The College is also developing other plans which could see the College protecting the heritage of some existing town centre buildings to deliver education, skills and training to students and businesses. Currently discussions are underway regarding the future use of the library in Ship Street and Watton Mount. This could be a great opportunity to protect their heritage and develop new uses for these buildings, in keeping with the wishes of CADW, the local authority and other interested parties.
The developments being discussed are all part of a strategy to widen the access to further education for all people in the communities of Breconshire, whether you are 16 and starting your career in business and accountancy, or taking the opportunity to update your skills or even gaining new skills for a promotion or a complete career change. The move will also mean easier access onto courses as delivery will be in the main town centre. There are also hopes that the plans will help further increase progression into Higher Education and degree programmes also delivered by the College in Brecon and enable people to re-skill and up-skill helping them to compete effectively in the job market.
NPTC Group of College’s CEO Mark Dacey said: “We will be taking the opportunity to engage with business users, community groups and Powys CC in marketing this new concept in the delivery of Further Education. We will be engaging our architects to engage with the planning authority, which is Brecon Beacons National Park, and to progress the design. We have applied for funding through 21st century Schools. We have developed a strategic outline programme (SOP) and are in the process of completing the outline business case. The final business case (FBC) will be developed very soon after. Therefore decisions still need to be taken by our Board of Governors and Welsh Government, but this could be a great opportunity for learners and businesses in Brecon.”
Cabinet Member for Highways, Recycling and Assets, Councillor Phyl Davies added: “We are committed to making the most efficient and effective use of our buildings and are discussing the future use of the library and the Watton Mount in Brecon with NPTC Group of Colleges. The buildings may be surplus for the council but by working with the college we believe they can play an import role in the town’s future.”
Pic Cap: A new chapter for Brecon, artist’s impressions of library in Ship Street and Watton Mount