£70 million college campus plan for derelict land in Nottingham
A Notts college is looking to build a £70 million campus on derelict land in the city centre. Education Correspondent Marcus Boocock reports.
FOR too long the south side of Nottingham has given a poor impression of the city.
But that could be about to change.
The train station is already undergoing a major revamp and there are plans for a tourist attraction around the castle.
Now £70 million plans for a new campus for Central College Nottingham, the old South Nottingham College, have been unveiled.
It would be built on derelict wasteland between Canal Street and the Nottingham Contemporary gallery while the college's current eyesore Maid Marian Way building would be sold off – possibly as part of the castle plans.
The new building would cater for 4,000 students – a similar number to the current Maid Marian Way site.
It would be based in two six-storey blocks with classrooms, workshops, science labs and offices, as well as public areas – including a walkway from the train station to the Contemporary via Canal Street.
It would also include a new sports hall with 12 courts and an all-weather pitch on the roof, all of which would be open for public use. Entrances would be in Canal Street and Fletcher Gate, while a new tram stop could be created between the existing Lace Market and Station Street stops.
College principal Malcolm Cowgill said: "We think our plans fit in very well with the need to regenerate and transform this part of the city.
"The proposal creates an iconic building that will serve the city well for decades to come."
The college has been in high-level talks with both the city and county councils over the plans.
City council deputy leader Councillor Graham Chapman is supporting the move.
He said: "I think it's a tremendous initiative.
"However, there will be a funding issue and it will require a lot of central government funding. Nottingham has not had its due amount for the last 20 years. The city will be as helpful as possible."
The work would also be paid for from the college's own coffers and borrowed money, while it is seeking other funding sources, including European money.
Mr Cowgill said the fact they were unveiling the plans is testament to their confidence that they would come to fruition.
The campus would be the main base for the college. It has other sites in the city and county – at Beeston, Clifton, West Bridgford, New Basford, Radford and Ruddington – and also sponsors Top Valley Academy and the South Notts Academy, in Radcliffe-on-Trent. Mr Cowgill has referred to this as a "hub and spoke strategy".
Notts County Council children and young people's services chairman Councillor Philip Owen said: "We're very supportive of Central College's ambitions for a hub and spoke model for a further education college serving both the county and city and are looking forward to hearing more about its plans as they develop.
"Economic growth and prosperity are priorities for the council, so we share the college's aim to guarantee that our young people have the right skills, experience and qualifications to thrive in the work place. A suitably-trained and equipped workforce is top of the agenda for local employers."
The plans will take between three and five years to complete. Mr Cowgill added: "Our dream is to open in September 2016. But that is dependent on how quick we can get everything like funding in place."
Hilary Silvester, from the Nottingham Civic Society, said: "I think the area is the right place for development, especially if it frees up the area in Maid Marian Way.
"My only concern is the height and whether it interferes with views of the Lace Market, so we would be keen to know more."
Latest change for expanding college
The plan for the new Central College Nottingham campus is the latest in a series of changes to its network of sites.
Currently the college has 13 campuses, with the main one in Maid Marian Way in the city.
This site was home to People's College, until this merged with Broxtowe College in July 2006 and was renamed Castle College.
South Nottingham College and Castle College merged in July 2011 and the new group was renamed Central College last month.
Under the new plans, the Maid Marian Way campus would be sold off. But there are no current plans to move out of any of the other 12 existing sites – High Road and Ellis Grove in Beeston, Norwich Union House in the Old Market Square, the library and Farnborough Road in Clifton, Highfields in University Boulevard, Ruddington Fields Business Park; London Road in the city, Duke Street, New Basford, Alfreton Road in Radford; Greythorn Drive, West Bridgford and Church Street, in Stapleford.
Two sites which it no longer uses – Whiteley Mill in Stapleford and Middle Street in Beeston – are up for sale, while the lease on its Bingham centre has expired.