AFTER years of campaigning Salisbury will finally have a purpose-built sixth form college after planners gave their blessing for S6C (Salisbury Sixth Form College) to construct a facility on Tollgate Road.

The brownfield site near to St Martins Church is a former clock factory and will now house the 400 students who are temporarily based at Wiltshire College.

S6C had hoped to move into the new building in September, having opened in 2014, but due to the planning process being delayed that has now been pushed backed to Christmas.

Principal Simon Firth said the college seeks to address the imbalance between Salisbury exam results at GCSE which are above Wiltshire average and the a-level rating which is below.

He said: “Now that Wiltshire College have closed their a-level provision and in recent weeks Totton College have done the same there is increasing demand for places.

“It is interesting 750 students get on a bus every day to leave Salisbury to got to college.

“We are excited about the possibilities ahead and providing a world class learning environment in Salisbury. It is something that Salisbury has been crying out for and in desperate need of.”

The Southern Area Planning Committee approved the building by eight votes to one with the only objection coming from Cllr Brian Dalton - who expressed concerns over the height. The site will also include space for a car park and a multi-use games area.

Funding is in place from the Department of Education and the upper floors have already been built off-site in a bid to speed up the building process.

Chairman of governors Neil Owen said: “For several years we have been going through this and it is another step in that long journey.

“It is great that the committee has approved it and we can get started in a matter of weeks.”

The plans try to minimise the impact on the historic grade-one listed St Martins Church by hiding the site from view but Mr Owen did not rule out further development in future.

He added: “Partly the way we have done the design with the footprint is so that we could expand it a later stage.

“It is the reason why it is quite compact is so that we can add on [more buildings] a few years down the road if we get to capacity.”