JASON DONOVAN has officially opened a £26m revamped college.
The new and improved Orpington College was officially opened by the Australian popstar on April 14.
It was expected to be completed this spring but was finished 10 weeks ahead of schedule in December last year.
Talking about the new, modern facilities the actor and singer said: “I do genuinely believe that when you grow up your education, the people you meet and the facilities that you learn in make such an impact and become part of who you are.
“I think this particular building will have an impact on those growing up here.”
Buildings, dating back more than 30 years, have been demolished and a new hi-tech four-storey block built.
The new building, called The Ozone, houses a study and IT centre with state-of-the-art computer facilities.
The library includes a quiet room where 14 students can study and also a ‘pod’ where one student at a time can record their notes by voice and even carry out podcasting.
Principal Simon Norton said: “I am delighted with our new buildings. They are modern, light and built to the highest standards.
“They are an asset for local people and businesses to use and we are looking forward to helping everybody make the most of them.”
The redevelopment, started in July 2008, includes a revamp of the college’s landmark 11-storey tower block overlooking Orpington town centre with a newly designed reception and refectory area.
It also boasts eco-friendly heating and cooling systems, and the sports hall has been treated to a new roof.
Extra classroom space has also been gained by transforming the existing library.
Meanwhile an area known as The Hive has replaced the previous canteen and social area, and the entrance to the college has been moved from Market Square onto Lychgate Road.
Mr Donovan added: “By changing the environment in which you work and teach I think it shows you care which will help to change people’s attitude.”
Orpington College, which has around 1,300 students, was given £25m by the Government’s Learning and Skills Council, while the remaining £1m came from a bank loan.
To read about what is happening in your community, visit newsshopper.co.uk/news/community Talking about his current role in the musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Mr Donovan said: “It is going great and in six weeks it will over after a year and a half.
“I am looking forward to doing sometime different and something new and am looking forward to not working six days a week.”
The singer is releasing a new album in October, which he said will be a mix of 80s songs but “with a twist”.
Some songs will be covers but there is also original material.