Plans for a flagship higher education centre in King’s Lynn have been awarded £6.5 million of government funding.

The new 2,000 sqm centre will be built at the College of West Anglia campus and offer up to 500 more students from across West Norfolk access to greater science and technology skills and training.

The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has secured the funds to build the new facility for the University Centre West Anglia, a partnership between the college and Anglia Ruskin University.

The funding, which is part of the Government’s Growth Deal to help boost local economies, was announced at Easton College, near Norwich, on Monday.

The new building will include 14 digital classrooms, a 120-seat multi-media lecture hall, offices and social space.

The university centre aims to address the skills and employment gap in Fenland and West Norfolk.

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP said: “One of our key priorities is to develop a regional workforce that has the skills to meet our fast-growing and vibrant economy, so it is great news that the Government has backed this project.

“This will bring a wider range of university-level education to West Norfolk, inspire hundreds of youngsters and ensure they have the right qualifications and training for their future careers.”

College principal and chief executive David Pomfret said: “I am absolutely delighted to hear the application for funding for a brand new higher skills centre in King’s Lynn has been approved and would like to thank the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership for recognising and supporting the need for this facility in the West Norfolk area.

“This new flagship building for the University Centre West Anglia will create a high quality teaching and learning facility not currently available within a 40-mile radius of King’s Lynn and will offer new opportunities for progression in learning and skills directly related to the requirements of the local and regional economy.

“This is crucial both for the education and training needs of local people and for the success of local businesses and employers.”

The project already has planning permission and work is expected to start next year.