College appeals planning decision

College appeals planning decision

On Friday 17th April, North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) announced it had lodged its appeal to gain planning permission for a housing development on its Nuneaton site. 

The college is seeking to sell a portion of its Hinckley Road campus (CV11 6BH) so that it can invest in facilities as part of its plan to achieve outstanding educational standards.

The new facilities will include:

• new engineering workshops to support advanced engineering

• technical training

• digital learning

• digital skills

• an all-year, all-weather sports pitch for students and the community

• enhanced digital capabilities eg laptop banks for student use

All of the above will also support the college’s bid to teach T-levels.

The plan is for a residential development of up to 195 dwellings (outline to include access) with an all-weather sports pitch (3G), associated public open space and other green infrastructure, landscaping and car parking of up to 400 spaces, including disabled parking. 25% of the dwellings will be affordable housing.

There were no objections to the original scheme from any of the statutory consultees.

Marion Plant, chief executive at NWSLC said:

"The college is at a crossroads. We need the funds from this redevelopment to change the campus facilities so that we can keep pace with demands to provide a world-class, skilled workforce in a safe, modern and well-equipped environment.

"We are appealing because there are no other, timely, alternatives to provide sufficient funds to sustain our virtuous circle. First you establish high teaching standards. OFSTED has recognised we’re already achieving those.

"That means you attract more students and more staff who reach ever higher so that students fulfil even more of their potential and get great job opportunities and life chances. But the foundation to all of this is an environment which fosters excellence. Outstanding facilities – great buildings, facilities and resources – help us deliver outstanding student results.

"In common with colleges across the country, we have seen a 30 per cent reduction in funding over the past 10 years. We know the government expects colleges to be responsible for their financial health. With the introduction of the insolvency regime, colleges like us, must invest in our future by using our own reserves or generating cash.

"For many reasons, NWSLC has been left behind in keeping our campus on track compared with other colleges’ facilities. There is no other college in the country where the government has spent less on it than our Nuneaton campus. If you look at our Hinckley and Wigston campuses, you’ll see how Nuneaton’s enrolments are purely on the merits of its teaching quality rather than its fabric. We must put that right now, hence the appeal.

"Whilst the government continues to announce funding for colleges to invest in their estates, much of this is match-funded from colleges’ own reserves or subject to colleges being able to demonstrate that they are already investing. The funding is also attached to specific qualifications – such as T levels – which the college has applied to provide but won’t be able to sustain in the medium term unless we make this investment in our estate now."

The proposed plans will give the community access to high quality, safer, much-improved all weather sports facilities. Green spaces and landscaping will ensure continued availability of walks and cycleways, including access for dog walkers. New green travel plans and car parking provision for over 400 cars will ensure safe access for all. Consultation with the local community has shown families welcome these plans for investment in post-16 education on their doorstep.

Restructure the campus

The funds unlocked by the sale of the land will enable NWSLC to restructure the campus to continue to create world-class education through better digital access and facilities, including:

• Enabling the college to invest in much more digitally enabled and flexible learning environments. Providing high quality accessible resources to meet the needs of students and allow investment in more mobile and flexible technology, such as laptop banks and digital library resources, accessible anywhere within the campus.

• Triggering investment in modern industry-standard workshops to drive the development of much needed automotive and engineering skills. It will enable the college to provide students with high quality teaching and learning in emerging industries such as green technology and advanced engineering. • Updated all-weather (3G) sports facilities will replace water-logged, grass pitches and out-of-date changing rooms, creating high quality sports facilities that the community, college and students can all be proud of.

• Wider investment in the campus buildings will see much needed repairs and upgrades to windows and corridors and the fabric of the buildings enhancing safety and the overall experience of the site.

• Improvements to hair and beauty salons will be delivered including relocating them to the ground floor for easier access.

As well as providing mainstream, post-16 education, the Nuneaton campus also offers dedicated support for students with specialist educational needs and disabilities (SEND) – and a unit for 14-16 year-olds engaged in alternative education with more than 7,000 students enrolled at the site.

Rated a Good Provider by OFSTED which recognised NWSLC’s students’ behaviours and attitudes as ‘outstanding’, the college sees itself as a community cornerstone with a restaurant, hair and beauty salon and nursery, all of which will benefit from future investment in the site from the funds generated by the land sale.

NWSLC is the only professional and technical training provider in the area helping to prepare committed individuals for the future of work – through either full-time, classroom-based or apprenticeships with partner employers.

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