A £5 million complex could be opened at Accrington and Rossendale College by next summer, providing hundreds of new apprenticeships and further training places.
Plans have been submitted by college bosses to build the ‘Visitor Economy Centre’ at their Broad Oak campus in Accrington.
The multi-purpose building would house a high-quality restaurant and retail outlet, dining and conference facilities and training facilities.
If approved, work could begin as soon as next month and the scheme would be completed by July 2015.
College principal Sue Taylor said the centre will improve the college, student prospects and the surrounding area.
She said: “The development underpins the continuous aim Accrington and Rossendale College has to giving learners the best environment to learn in, preparing them for their chosen career paths.”
Documents sent to Hyndburn Council reveal that the 1,741sqm building would host the college’s travel and tourism, financial services and business and logistics department.
Their hospitality and catering department, currently based at The Globe Centre, would be relocated to the new centre.
It would also more than double the number of students over the next five years, from the current 90 to 210.
The project will also see an extra 71 apprenticeship places for 16 to 18-year- old students, and 145 adult apprenticeship starters by 2017.
It also aims to improve levels of deprivation in the area by providing an extra 56 places for 16 to 18-year-old learners from the Central and Barnfield wards.
The restaurant would open six days a week and be operated and managed by students to provide ‘real life teaching environment training’.
A design and access statement sent to the council said: “The development will enable the college to grow its catering curriculum offering and provide training in partnership with local businesses operating in the ‘visitor economy’.
“The investment created by the facility and its legacy during its use will stimulate economic growth.”
A public consultation was held in March, with more than 150 invitations sent out to residents, along with a council consultation at the start of June.
The Visitor Economy Centre is being supported by major employers including Northcote Manor, Mercure Hotels and Clayton Park Bakery.