Prince to open town’s pioneering college

Wigan UTC building refurbishment: The exterior showing 'The Factory' extension which will house the vertical farm

Wigan UTC building refurbishment: The exterior showing 'The Factory' extension which will house the vertical farm

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WIGAN’S ground-breaking University Technical College (UTC) will get the royal seal of approval next month at its official opening.

His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex will visit the UTC on September 23 on a trip to the town that will include a tour of Wigan Youth Zone.

Prince Edward, the youngest of the Queen’s children, will be the second dignitary to visit the borough in recent months after the Prime Minister David Cameron MP toured the Youth Zone in August.

The UTC, a town centre multi-million pound development that was previously the British Gas showrooms and council planning offices, will house a modern teaching academy.

Chairman of the UTC governors, businessman Martin Ainscough said: “We are highly delighted that HRH Prince Edward has agreed to officially open our academy.

“This Royal occasion will seal the hard work and efforts that our team have put in to get the academy ready in time.

Mr Ainscough, who has played a key role in developing the UTC since the start of the project added: “It is something that our students and the people of Wigan will be extremely proud of.

“The academy will open its doors to students on September 3 and will provide academic and technical curriculum for 14 to 19 year olds.”

An innovative design feature of the UTC building will be the state-of-the-art vertical farm – the first anywhere in the UK – that will grow crops to be made into soups and sauces which will be distributed to local charities.

Students will have the opportunity to gain practical experience of working in the food supply market and develop engineering skills while maintaining the farm.

Year 10 and 12 students who wish to sign up to a course at the UTC can now do so and the facility is open for prospective attendees to take a look at the pioneering facilities at the New Market Street site.

Prince Edward’s visit to the UTC and Youth Zone is scheduled for the morning of Monday September 23.