Harborough’s newest college plan launched

How the landscaped Magna Park extension might look
How the landscaped Magna Park extension might look

A plan for the Harborough district’s newest education facility was launched at Magna Park near Lutterworth this week.

The Logistics Institute of Technology (LIT) would train up to 1,000 students a year on a purpose-built campus at the heart of an extended Magna Park, invited guests were told.

The institute’s mission would be to provide the rapidly growing logistics industry with “education, skills training and applied research support”.

Pat McGillycuddy, chief executive officer Europe of Magna Park owners IDI Gazeley told the Mail: “If we get planning permission from Harborough District Council, we can build the institute in six months.”

He said a launch date of September 2018 was possible.

He explained that the Logistics Institute of Technology was part of IDI Gazeley’s drive to make Magna Park a beacon for the logistics industry.

“We’ve had interest in Magna Park from all over the world” he said. “And one of the first questions is always ‘where do we get our staff from?’”

LIT would be a further and higher education, training and applied research institute that would provide a wide range of education, equivalent to the range from GCSE to masters degree.

It is led by the recently combined North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, in partnership with Aston University’s engineering and logistics department.

They have teamed up with IDI Gazeley and global high technology company Holovis, who operate from Magna Park.

Edward Sweeny, professor of logistics at Aston University said the new college would teach “subjects related to Logistics in the broadest sense - in food industry terms, for example, you would say ‘from farm to fork’”.

He said: “The logistics industry is getting more and more complex, and more and more technical.

“But there are tens of thousands of people in logistics who, while they have practical experience have absolutely zero in terms of qualifications.

“Ten years ago we got away with that, but now we need to have a proper, structured approach to knowledge.

“There are many companies who will want to use the institute to develop their own staff, side by side with young people starting out in the industry.”

The plan for the Logistics Institute of Technology is linked to IDI Gazeley’s ambition to expand the existing Magna Park.

The distribution hub currently employs 9,500 people. IDI Gazeley say if expansion is given the go-ahead it could employ 15,000 people.

Planning director of IDI Gazeley, Gwyn Stubbings, has told the Mail the expansion is to meet the “significant demand” for more facilities.

But the expansion plans have attracted considerable opposition from local people.

They insist Magna Park is already big enough, new jobs are not needed in the area and both local air quality and traffic congestion will worsen.