After £13 million of investment and two years of building work, the new-look tower block at Lynn’s College of West Anglia campus welcomed its first students this week.
The building has been refurbished with state-of-the-art learning facilities and a brand new social area, which can accommodate up to 400 students, four times as many as the old facility.
Principal David Pomfret said: “This development has moved us from a real challenge to a position where we are really proud of what we have created.”
Mark Reavell, the college’s executive director of partnerships, who oversaw the project, added: “It’s £13 million well spent to make it happen.”
The tower, which was first opened by the Queen Mother in 1974, was closed for refurbishment in 2011 after asbestos was found in the building.
Around £1.2 million alone was spent on removing asbestos and other waste materials before building work began.
The renovated building, which can cater for 1,800 students at its maximum capacity and is the size of an average sixth form college on its own, provides a new home for the college’s health and social care departments and foundation studies, which were temporarily moved to the former Alderman Jackson school and Plaxtole House respectively.
It also houses conference facilities, science laboratories, computer suites and a learning resource centre containing 40 computers and 50,000 books.
Biology lecturer Rebecca Holland said: “For the students, it makes a huge difference.”
Business student Kate Ahrendt said the new facilities would help to make her and her classmates’ studies easier.
And engineering student Liam Hall said: “It looks pretty good. The social area is useful to study in outside lessons.”
Mr Reavell added: “It is a really stunning facility. Students who were here last year can’t believe they are sitting in it.”
The tower development is a key element of a £30 million investment in facilities across the college’s three campuses in Lynn, Wisbech and Cambridge.
It is hoped a new £2.5 million creative hub for the media and arts on the Lynn campus, which will be housed in the old sports centre, will be open next September.
Mr Reavell said: “We are aspiring to going back to being an outstanding provider. We have got to keep pushing.”