This is a key part of the government's partnership with South Yorkshire authorities to improve technical education. Credit: via Jennie Holland PR

GF Tomlinson begins £15m overhaul for Barnsley College

The contractor has started works to deliver the technical skills-focused South Yorkshire Institute of Technology.

Billed as the transformation of the Barnsley College University Centre into an innovation hub for the region, the project is jointly funded by the Department for Education, regional investment and the college’s capital funds.

The college was also successful with a Salix decarbonisation capital bid for sustainability upgrades throughout the building.

RCA is the architect for the scheme. The contract value for Midlands-based GF Tomlinson is £9.5m.

Formerly a Mining & Technical College originally built in 1932, it is hoped that the facility will become a sought-after option for higher level technical education in South Yorkshire.

The upgrade will provide a future-focused learning environment for Level 4 and 5 technical provisions.

The South Yorkshire IoT, which is one of 21 IoTs nationally, joins Further Education institutions, Higher Education institutions and local employers together to provide pathways from STEM based T-Levels to Higher Technical Qualifications, apprenticeships, and degrees. It will also offer flexible courses for adults looking to reskill or upskill.

Construction works have started this month to transform the interior of the building, which will comprise a brand-new atrium, three new mezzanine floors with study resource zones, a modern café and breakout area at the ground floor level, and a new glazed roof lights.

GF Tomlinson will provide site tours, work experience placements, apprenticeship and T-Level placements to Barnsley College students and other schools within the area.

Works are planned for completion by summer 2025 and once fully refurbished, the building will provide capacity for over 1,000 staff and students.

GF Tomlinson will be providing community consultation for residents and neighboring businesses, to keep everyone fully informed of plans as they progress, mitigating disruption.

The contractor has worked with Barnsley College previously delivering its Think Low Carbon Centre located at Honeywell Campus. Renowned as an award-winning Sustainable Centre of Excellence, its cutting-edge technology and modern design is mirrored in the latest SYIoT scheme.

The development forms an integral part of the Government’s IoT drive across England and investment in South Yorkshire as a major part of the SYIoT – a collaboration made up of DN Colleges Group, Sheffield Hallam University, Barnsley College, the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre, the Sheffield College and RNN Group.

Adrian Grocock, managing director at GF Tomlinson, said: “We are delighted to be appointed as the main contractor on the South Yorkshire Institute of Technology (IoT) (SYIoT). This state-of-the-art facility will provide students at Barnsley College with a first-class, modern learning environment, whilst breathing new life into a well-known historical building in the heart of the town.

“Through our collaboration with the client team, we look forward to turning Barnsley College’s vision into reality, transforming the site into one of their most sustainable campuses and delivering a world class technical education centre the whole region can be proud of.”

Barnsley College principal and chief executive David Akeroyd said: “This is an exciting time for the College and all our partners involved in the South Yorkshire IoT – as we look ahead to a future in which our hard work has led to increased opportunities for retraining and upskilling, more accessible and higher-quality jobs, and a productive workforce who are skilled in the right areas.

“It’s particularly special for us that this important IoT site will be right here in the centre of Barnsley. This is strong proof that our college continues to go from strength to strength, as an educational standard-bearer for the region.”

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