A GOLD-ribbon bedecked spade was used to ceremonially get underway a multi-million pound transformation of Bournemouth and Poole College’s North Road campus.

The £8.6million build is part of an £11m project that will bring state-of-the-art facilities to students.

The ground-breaking or sod cutting ceremony signalled the official start of work by construction firm Willmott Dixon that is due to take 65 weeks to complete.

It will include a contemporary 136-seat lecture theatre – replacing the Jellicoe Theatre a mile away – a digital media centre, learning resources centre and new laboratories for health and medical sciences.

The site had been occupied by chalet-style temporary cabins, used since the early 1970s as classrooms, which have been cleared.

Neal Stephens, managing director of Willmott Dixon said the L-shaped building would be a ‘very traditional build’, matching existing buildings, with 60 per cent of the roof covered by photovoltaic panels and with natural ventilation. He said 70 per cent of the sub contract work would be let within a 40-mile radius.

“Lots of people can build buildings, it’s the legacy you leave behind when you do that,” he said.

Ken Roberts, executive director of resources at the college, who is overseeing the project, said they looked forward to using the three-storey building, which will be linked to the existing college buildings, in September 2015.

“Students come from schools where facilities have been superior to those at the college,” he said.

“That’s changed.”

He said: “The new building will provide new state-of-the-art facilities, replacing 1920s buildings currently being used at our Lower Constitution Hill site.”

He added: “It has taken some time to reach this stage. We are happy to see construction work is about to start.”

The new facilities will not just benefit students, staff and businesses, but the wider town of Poole and county of Dorset, he added.