RELATIONS between industry and students have been bolstered at Askham Bryan College with the opening of its new £2.4m agriculture and engineering hub.

Providing an innovative centre for students as well as a training resource and link with industry, the new Lance Gilling Building lies at the heart of the college’s York campus and was developed in conjunction with the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The centre is also home to the Agriculture and Horticulture Training Board (AHTB) and the Rural Business Research Unit, and is already used as a training centre by Trimble, a leading provider of advanced location equipment.

Within the college the Lance Gilling Building will be the focus of the practical studies by the 300 or so students studying agriculture and land based engineering, and features a suite of lecture rooms, farm information room, offices and a 900 square metre double height work shop with specialist equipment.

At the opening ceremony campus principal Tim Whitaker spoke of the college’s commitment to investing in the rapidly changing landscape of agriculture, stating: “It is vital for us to ensure our students graduate with a deep understanding and all the technical competencies needed in precision agriculture and on the connected farm.”

He referred to the “significant investment” made in the infrastructure and emphasised the importance of the college’s strong industry relationships.

He said: “The LEP has invested and developed the bio-economy and agri-tech within the Yorkshire region substantially. This building, as a joint venture with the LEP is tangible proof of that.”

The official opening was carried out by Nigel Pulling, chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, who said: “We both strive to be a positive force helping farming and land-based industries progress and be as successful as possible in a rapidly-changing world.

“If we want a successful rural sector we need a well-trained and well-educated work force. Having the best buildings and equipment is an important part of this.”

The building is named after the late Lance Gilling, a leading agriculturalist and the college’s longest serving principal, who was also a former chairman and president of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.