DIGNITARIES gathered to mark the start of a state-of-the-art development in Grays.

Thurrock mayor Yash Gupta, council chief executive Graham Farrant and South Essex College principal Angela O’Donoghue attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the college’s new Grays site.

The £45miilon campus opposite the council offices is due to open in September 2014 and will replace the current Woodview Campus.

It is expected to kickstart the regeneration of Grays town centre by bringing thousands of students to the area every year.

Ms O’Donoghue said this was an exciting time for the college.

She said: “It is the start of a building project which is the last phase of this development. “There has been an awful lot of work go into it to date.

“This is one of the most exciting stages because you will be able to see the building rising out of the ground.”

Contractors Skanska demonstrated a piling drill on the site as part of the ceremony. The Thurrock campus is expected to be a “milestone” for education and will be set in two three and four-storey buildings.

Graham Farrant said: “This is about the decade of delivery.

“All the things we have talked about for so many years are now being delivered. It will generate real training opportunities for young people to get access to jobs.”

Mayor Gupta added: “This is really a great day in the history of Thurrock. We will have a splendid college which will provide excellent education to our young people and not so young people as well. This is a great opportunity for Thurrock.”

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