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Kier Eastern has been appointed as the building contractor for the new National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural on the High House Production Park in Purfleet.

The new facility will be the National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural’s central training facility, providing accreditation and training in the backstage skills required by the theatre and live music sectors. The facility will be built alongside the Royal Opera House Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop, which opened in January 2011.

The building contract will be managed by Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation on behalf of High House Production Park Limited.

The new facility will open in summer 2012, whereupon the academy will become an important national and local training facility that will help meet the UK’s anticipated need for 30,000 skilled backstage and technical theatre staff by 2017.

The build will complete phase three of the Production Park’s transformation from a derelict and decaying farmstead to a modern training, production, and community facility in the heart of the Thames Gateway.  With the Academy under construction, High House Production Park Limited will now focus its attention on bringing forward the remaining development plots available on the site. These plots are anticipated to provide around 100,000sqft of accommodation for businesses and artists from related fields.

Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation chairman, Will McKee, said: “The Development Corporation is delighted to announce Kier Eastern as the building contractor for the National Skills Academy.”

“This is a strategically important development for Thurrock. The Academy is the second of the two anchor tenants to locate on the site and its presence will help High House Production Park establish its unique offer as a centre of excellence for the creative and cultural industries.  Rooting this important growth sector in Purfleet has been a long term objective of the Corporation and its partners and I am delighted that this next phase of development is now underway. The Academy will raise the aspirations of the local community and will provide important training opportunities as well as the potential for new jobs.”

National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural Managing Director Pauline Tambling said: “We are delighted that the Purfleet building is now underway and thank all the partners who believed in this project and have made it possible. The venue will not only deliver training but will be open to industry to hire for rehearsal and new equipment expos as well as providing activities for the local community. This is an exciting time for all.

“Our vision has always been of an internationally acclaimed technical theatre and live music sector supporting the best stages in the world – this building brings us ever more closely to this vision and to delivering world-class training.”

Kier Eastern director Nick Bache commented: “We are happy to have been appointed as principal contractor for the design & build of the National Skills Academy project in Purfleet which, when complete, will provide an important training facility for use at both local and national level. We look forward to starting on site later this month and will be using the build phase of the scheme to interact with local colleges and the community.”