A COLLEGE has applied for a loan from Southend Council to build a new campus to train budding mechanics, builders and engineers.

South Essex College wants to convert part of the Progress Road Industrial Estate, in Eastwood, into a vocational centre offering courses in construction, motor vehicles and engineering.

The base, in Stephenson Road, would cater for up to 180 students.

Councillors will be asked to grant a “secured loan facility” at the next cabinet meeting . The amount has not been specified.

Anthony McGarel, deputy principal and chief executive of the college, said: “The college is currently in negotiations regarding the sale of the Stephenson Road site, near Progress Road.

“We hope to be able to expand our Southend-based construction and engineering courses at this new centre in the future.

“We don’t want to look too far ahead until the deal is done, but this certainly has the potential to be an exciting time for the college in Southend.”

Southend Council said it was unable to comment on the deal. The council planning committee has previously given approval for the site to be developed at 30 Stephenson Road.

The new centre is expected to accommodate more than 100 parking spaces for staff and students.

The college said it wants to be able to expand its construction and engineering courses in the future, with the new centre offering students a dedicated, industry standard facility.

The plans include courses for motor vehicle mechanics to be offered in Southend for the first time. The college said it hopes to “equip more young people in the local area with the right skills to secure jobs in these important industries for the UK economy.”

James Courtenay, councillor responsible for children and learning, said: “It is important that Southend offer different variations to higher education.

“While some go to schools and colleges to get A-levels before going on to University, for others it is not the best option and it is important to offer variations.

“South Essex College’s proposal goes towards the general plan to have as much further education, and different types of education, in Southend.

“We have a wide range of options already available in Southend for 16-plus but also for those who decide to retrain later in life or want to gain new skills so it will be good to add to that.”