PLANS have been submitted for a multi-million pound expansion at Bury College as bosses look to “inspire the next generation of professionals”.

The £8.6m new centre will upgrade the college’s health, social care and computing and IT facilities with a range of state-of-the-art features including a new laboratory, simulated hospital ward and domestic home as well as a digital environment and IT suites to support students in their practical learning.

Funding for the project is supported by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, which will provide £2m of investment, with £1.3m coming from the Department for Education.

Initial plans for the development were put in place before the Covid-19 pandemic with the team behind it collaborating on the project since last August.

It is hoped the new centre will provide a significant boost to Bury’s economy as well as offering young people the opportunity to train in a range of high-demand areas and prepare them for industry in employment sectors of key importance to the region.

Lisa Matthews, curriculum director for adult provision and higher education, said: “We are delighted that the planning application has been submitted to support our vision of creating a brand new centre for learning in the heart of Bury.

“The development will provide increased opportunities for individuals to study health, innovation and digital technologies from advanced through to degree level.

“These are critical employment sectors across Bury and Greater Manchester and we are proud to be expanding our offer to fully embrace them further.”

The new centre will be located close to Bury College Enterprise Centre and Woodbury Centre and built on the site occupied by the vacant Peel Health Centre, off Trinity Street, which will be demolished as part of the proposals. The proposed new building will be built across four storeys, totalling over 2,500 sqm of new floorspace and will become part of a ‘gateway’ site, strengthening the links between Bury College and the rest of the town.

According to the planning application “the building will be a contemporary design which has been informed by high sustainability credentials and utilising materials sympathetic to existing surrounding buildings.”