COLCHESTER Council has given the green light to plans to convert former offices into a vocational educational training centre.

Situated in Phoenix Court, there will be minor external alterations to the building to remove a loading door and put in a new window.

The application was submitted in August and approval has now been given.

The proposed new training centre would become part of the JTL Training group.

Established in 1990, the not-for-profit registered charity is a leading work-based learning provider in the building services engineering sector across England and Wales.

It offers advanced apprenticeships in areas including electrical installation, engineering maintenance as well as mechanical engineering services comprising plumbing, gas alongside heating and ventilating. 

The application’s planning statement highlights the potential for increased employability in the Colchester area.

JTL said: “The provision of apprenticeship training offers significant social and economic benefits and brings future employment benefits to the local and wider community.

“These benefits would relate to local employers and to local residents, in training local school leavers and apprentices in skilled trades to meet the wider government employment objective.

“Traineeships provide training opportunities for local young people aged 16-25 years old, with many coming from under-represented groups within the immediate local area. 

“The majority of learners associated with the existing centre live within the Colchester area and the site is well placed, being nearby existing educational facilities with opportunities for students to continue their education vocationally within the building services engineering sector."

The company added: “The proposal complements and links with local businesses, including those located in the Colchester area, with the training opportunities in the building services engineering sector having direct links to employment use operations and helping businesses to fill the employment gap by producing a skilled workforce.”

The maximum number of students expected at the centre at any one time is 32, although scheduling of classes and groups would likely mean fewer.

The centre would also provide employment for two full-time staff members, with occasional visiting tutors.

Normal business hours would be 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday.