College is first to explore raising own construction funds after LSC ‘debacle’
In what is believed to be a first, Oaklands College in St Albans is exploring ways of funding the construction of its own new college. It has received planning permission for its £100million Bond Bryan-designed new-build facility which was also approved at Public Inquiry after the scheme was called in by the Secretary of State, only to then be denied Learning and Skills Council funds.
The college is reported to have spent around £12 million to date on design and consultation, including significant costs associated to the planning and inquiry processes.
Principal Mark Dawe says: “We have been through a lot and are trying to take a positive approach, despite the LSC funding debacle. We have lots of ideas and are looking at how to ensure we achieve best value while remaining true to the ambition of centralising and delivering the best possible college.
“We achieved planning permission and then faced concern about the new college’s position in the green belt, so Bond Bryan worked with Planning Consultants GVA Grimley and Landscape Architects Whitelaw Turkington to minimise the visual impact of the proposals.
“We are addressing the funding issue from a position of strength as the college is financially sound. We’re now in talks with potential funders, banks and developers to explore the potential for funding the construction ourselves.
“The Bond Bryan design matches our aspirations for a college that will inspire and motivate, that will optimise the use of resources and improve access for the entire community. It is vital to the community that we press ahead.”
Tim Justice, Bond Bryan Associate, says: “The college that we have designed will amalgamate the current separate sites in Borehamwood, St Albans City Campus and Welwyn Garden City into a central campus at St Albans Smallford. The existing buildings cannot be adapted to provide an appropriate 21st Century learning environment, so the new college will become a campus for all students, with a central hub featuring a large social space and a learning zone, and three distinct wings coming off the hub each dedicated to specific areas of the curriculum."