IMPRESSIVE virtual images have been released of the proposed £140m Desertcreat Training College at Cookstown.
And this week saw the beginning of the procurement process to find a contractor to build the massive new development which will be a state of the art training ground for police, fire service and the prison service.
Architects’ images depict a huge sprawling campus nestled within the natural drumlins of the Desertcreat site.
The aim is to provide world class facilities which will include the main hub and classroom area, as well as a practical training area with a fire training warehouse, fire station, mock prison, indoor firearms range and a mock village.
This is a huge development and a geo-environmentalist who is working on the project said they were dealing with the environmental impact assessment and bringing environmental ideas into the early design stage.
Traffic is a major issue and with work hoping to start next year and the only entrance to the site leads to the main A29 into Cookstown, concerns are that it would lead to major traffic delays.
The plans allow for a long driveway into the development, therefore easing the traffic from the A29 and the project managers are working closely with Roads Service to deal with the issues.
The assessment also looked at how the project would affect residents both from a noise and air pollution point of view. This took into account training by the fire service which may include hot house training and the burning of carbonaceous material. They looked at ways to simulate this type of training and at alternative locations.
Consideration has also been given to the whole environmental impact on the natural habitat. There is a newt pond on site and it must be translocated at a certain time of the year. There are also bats and badgers and a whole raft of sensitive habitats.
The plan is to relocate all the animals and pond with a wildlife corridor for bats and other animals and a ‘five star hotel’ for badgers.
The whole development aims to be carbon neutral and will be using local biomass and willow fuels. There will be a focus on renewable energy and already local producers have been contacted about willow production.
There will be an 80m mast wind turbine which will clearly be visible on site however the architects are using grass roofs and other techniques to minimise the visual impact of the development.
They intend to be using as much local produce as possible to minimise the carbon footprint and aim to have Desertcreat as a ‘green site’.
A 50-100 year strategy has been developed to grow a natural woodland creating an estate with long term prospects.
A large water feature at the entrance to the college will also be used to purify drainage.
A Contractor’s Awareness Day to be held on 21 November 2011 at the Burnavon Arts and Culture Centre in Cookstown.
The Contractor’s Awareness day will afford an opportunity to businesses across the UK, Ireland and the rest of Europe to meet the Programme Team and learn more about the Desertcreat College Programme.