By Catherine McCurry
ENNISKILLEN’S South West College is set to develop a £24m ‘state of the art’ education facility at the former Erne Hospital site.
It follows the official handover of the five-acre site from Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to the college. The council acquired 13.16 acres of the former Erne Hospital site in Enniskillen at a cost of £1,350,000.
The Department of Health retained two acres of the site for the development of an ambulance centre.
The South West College now plans to develop a £24 million learning and education facility to replace its current campus at Gaol Square, Enniskillen.
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council will retain the remainder of the site with the hope to develop the area into a public services hub.
The council’s vision for the former Erne Hospital site is to create a shared public services hub which will bring together a number of public services onto the site, however no other services have committed to the plan.
The Enniskillen Masterplan, which was developed by the Department of Social Development, in partnership with Fermanagh District Council in 2012 to guide the development of the town centre over the next 20 years, identified the former Erne Hospital site as ‘an opportunity site’ within Enniskillen.
However, the council has said this is only a start, and is keen to drive forward further development of the public sector hub on the site that will “improve accessibility to, and effectiveness of, public service provision in Enniskillen”.
Council chairman, councillor Thomas O’Reilly said: “The council’s vision is to see the former Erne Hospital site transferred into a shared public services hub, helping to improve access to public services for members of the public while increasing efficiencies and reducing costs.
“The council is keen to see the entire site regenerated and I strongly encourage public service agencies to assess the potential of the site and to commit to the development of the public sector hub. There is significant potential for other public bodies to work closely with the South West College to deliver on the Council’s vision for an integrated public sector facility on the site.
The regeneration plan for the site also envisages a link to the town centre via a pedestrian and cycle bridge, and this will actively be considered by the Council in its regeneration plans for the town.”
The director of South West College Malachy McAleer said “Planning the new campus has commenced and it will be the hub for many regional curriculum and business support developments. Ambitious higher level skills provision and new innovation centres are planned.
“A consultation process has commenced within the college and with the wider community of Enniskillen.
“This will ensure that the new development maximises the potential of the prestigious and historic Erne Hospital site and that economic and community benefits are realised.”
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