The £90 million rebuilding of Tameside College will herald an exciting period of growth for the bakery department, with more students, even better equipment and closer links with schools and employers, said head of food and hospitality studies Chris Massey.

He told British Baker that the bakery facilities had only recently been enhanced, with £60,000 of investment in state-of-the-art bread and roll plants. But with the rebuild, to be completed by 2012, he said he planned to make a bid for a further £50,000 of new equipment.

Emphasising the importance of the college’s concentration on craft bakery, he said: "We will have a say in what we have and what we want. We will talk to the industry to make sure what we are doing meets their requirements, as it is important that we create pathways to employment in the bakery industry."

While other bakery departments, such as the one at Oldham College, had closed down in the north west, Massey said Tameside was poised for "significant expansion", thanks to strong support from the principal John Carroll and college governors.

He added: "Colleges tend to shrink when they are rebuilt, but we will not. I know that my department will not be subject to cost-cutting, but will undergo substantial growth." He anticipated an increase in the number of students of 15-20% over the next year.

A key element of the expansion will be a new bakery, which will sell products to the general public through a shop on Stanford Street. The college will also hear soon whether it has been successful in winning its bid to host the national bakery skills academy, which Massey said had been lodged last year with the help of the food and drink sector skills council Improve.

He said the space for the bakery department would be roughly the same, with an additional area for product development and, possibly, consultancy.