Willmott Dixon has been selected by North Kent College to deliver a new Performing and Production Digital Arts Facility at their Oakfield Lane campus in Dartford, Kent.

Procured through the Scape National Major Works framework, the £9.7m scheme will see construction of a two-storey building containing 2,836 square metres of space, delivering a performance venue, dance studios, music performance spaces, digital design classrooms and workshops.

Funded by the Government’s Getting Building Fund and overseen by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), this project will enhance North Kent College’s facilities to deliver performing arts and digital design education, respond to growing student demand and contribute to the long-term growth of the creative and cultural sector.

The project is one of six to receive funding in Kent from the Government’s Build Back Better initiative, helping the recovery of the economy by delivering vital facilities within an 18-month timeframe.

Kent County Council Leader Roger Gough said: “Funding for these six projects had been ring-fenced for some time and I am delighted that, after due diligence, they have been approved by SELEP. KCC officers have been heavily involved in assisting the various applicants to put together their business case and I am delighted that their efforts have resulted in the grants being confirmed.

David Gleed, chief executive and executive principal, North Kent College commented: “We are delighted to receive funding for this vital project which will further enhance the outstanding Arts offer that North Kent College provides. With the Arts as a key focus for both Kent and the Thames Gateway, this development ensures we remain at the forefront of education and training to produce the very best future Arts professionals. We are particularly grateful to both SELEP and Cllr Roger Gough and his KCC colleagues for their continued support and backing.”

Adam Worrall, director for Willmott Dixon in the London and South region added: “We are delighted to be working with North Kent College to deliver this first-class centre of education for the Arts that will offer students the opportunity to develop for years to come. To be able to deliver this scheme with a really focused customer and consultant team is great for the college but also for the Kent economy and local supply chain.”

Mark Robinson, group chief executive of SCAPE, said: “It’s clear that investment in the public sector, including further education, is crucial to the country’s economic recovery, both in terms of long-term skills development and immediate infrastructure delivery. Projects funded through the Getting Building Fund need to be delivered quickly, and direct award frameworks are key to kickstarting them at speed, whilst still ensuring they are delivered to the highest standard.

“Through the collaborative approach our frameworks enable and a steadfast commitment to best practice, I’m confident that SELEP, North Kent College and Willmott Dixon will deliver a fantastic facility.”

The project furthers Willmott Dixon’s track-record for delivering education facilities in Kent. After breaking ground in November 2020, the company is delivering a three-storey satellite facility for Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys in Sevenoaks on behalf of Kent Country Council. Furthermore, in 2017, it completed an extensive expansion at the Weald of Kent Grammar School, creating 600 school places.