A Guildford college, which specialises in land-based industries, has been granted planning consent for a major redevelopment.

Under the permission granted by Guildford Borough Council, Merrist Wood College and University Centre, run by Activate Learning, will gain a new glasshouse as well as teaching space with workshops, cafe and construction skills area.

A total of 25 buildings will be demolished as part of the redevelopment. It will add 227 students, bringing the capacity to 1,668.

However, the regeneration depends upon final approval of funding from the Department for Education which identified the college as a potential beneficiary of funding in 2021.

Gary Headland, chief executive of Activate Learning, said: “This is a significant milestone for Merrist Wood College and University Centre which we are proud to have as part of Activate Learning.

“As one of Surrey’s anchor institutions, we are striving to make a major contribution to the productivity of Surrey by significantly increasing the range of high-quality, highly relevant programmes we offer in the county.

“Each of three college campuses in Surrey – Merrist Wood College and University Centre, Guildford College, and Farnham College – are adapting and investing to ensure that we serve our local communities as best we possibly can.

“While funding isn’t yet in place, this is a really positive step in the right direction, we now await formal approval from the Department for Education for this incredibly important project for Surrey.”

Jo Manser, group director of Activate Learning’s Land-based Faculty, said: “This will be the biggest investment for Merrist Wood in its 81-years as a land-based college.

“Now, more than ever, it is critically important to preserve land-based education within our communities and we want to see land-based education flourish in Surrey.

“The development will consist of two new buildings that will provide new state of the art facilities for arboriculture, countryside management, horticulture and landscaping, equine and animal management.

“This investment will secure a sustainable future for Merrist Wood for generations to come.”

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