FENLAND: Cannon Kirk boss signs historic land deal with College West Anglia
COLLEGE bosses toasted the first major milestone towards a new £50 million campus in the Fens after signing a land acquisition deal. The College of West Anglia wants to develop 89 acres of former farmland on the outskirts of March as part of an ambitious
COLLEGE bosses toasted the first major milestone towards a new £50 million campus in the Fens after signing a land acquisition deal.
The College of West Anglia wants to develop 89 acres of former farmland on the outskirts of March as part of an ambitious project to rejuvenate their campus facilities.
Principal David Pomfret signed an option agreement on Friday with Owen Kirk, managing director of site owners Cannon Kirk Property, to secure the rights to purchase the land until the end of 2010.
By that time the college hopes to have obtained planning permission and vital financial backing from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) in order to commit to buying the land, and be well on the way to completing construction.
When complete, it would replace the further education and land-based centres in Wisbech as part of a massive redevelopment which would also see the King's Lynn campus move to a purpose-built £80m facility in the town's Nar Ouse Regeneration Area.
"I am very excited about it," said Mr Pomfret. "The next key date will be when we get LSC approval which is likely to be in a year's time.
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"It is going to be a fantastic facility for the whole of Fenland. It will be a centre of excellence, particularly for equine studies, and bring together further education and land-based studies in one development.
"Ofsted designated us an outstanding college but what is letting us down is the state of our estate and facilities, and this development will deal with that. It will make a landmark statement about the importance of learning and skills in the region."
The planned March campus would leave the former Isle College site in Wisbech redundant, but the idea to sell the land to housing developers to help fund the project received a setback last week.
Fenland councillors refused planning permission because no provisions were made to replace the 300-seat Isle College Hall, but Mr Pomfret said the college had allowed time to cope with planning glitches.
"These things happen and we will deal with it," he said. "We will have conversations with the planners to get it all back on track."
The proposed campus will offer more than 2,000 full and part-time students improved sports and drama facilities to boost the current curriculum.
Designs are at an advanced stage, showing two curved blocks surrounding a circular learning resource centre, with the glass-fronted building opening out views to landscaped surrounds and lake in front of the college.