CONSTRUCTION is now officially underway on the new £20m Winsford E-ACT Academy.

A bolt tightening ceremony was held on Monday to mark the completion of the first steelwork section of the state-of-the-art development.

Pupils and teachers were joined by representatives of sponsors E-ACT and building contractor Kier to celebrate the occasion, together with guests including local Councillors and the Town Mayor.

Academy Principal Andy Taylor-Edwards said: “In 12 months the Academy will move its distinctive ethos and vibrant culture into a spacious, modern, state-of-the-art learning environment.

“Seeing the magnitude of the new build today, I am convinced there has never been a better time to join the Academy. We cannot wait to start learning in our brand new classrooms, labs and workshops."

The Government-funded project, set to open in September 2012, is a partnership between Cheshire West and Chester Council, the Academy and sponsors E-ACT.

Council Leader Mike Jones said: “I am positive the E-ACT Academy will prove a real success story for education in the town and this superb new building will provide pupils and teachers with the first-class facilities they deserve.”

The building, housing 1,700 pupils, is being constructed on the existing Grange Lane site.

Features include a 400-seat theatre, design studios, music rooms, a fitness suite and a five-court sports hall.

The interior has comprises a central corridor with glass-fronted classrooms on either side. Open spaces, balconies and a ‘cafe culture’ canteen will also feature.

Clr Tom Blackmore said the building would benefit the wider community, who will have use of many of its facilities including the theatre, sports hall and fitness suite.

“It is set to become an iconic building for Winsford and I am sure everyone will be watching with interest as it takes shape,” he said.

Mr Taylor-Edwards addded: “We are excited by the prospect of new approaches to outdoor learning with our gardens, allotments, full reconstruction of World War trenches and our amphitheatre."