Our planning application for a new STEM centre was agreed unanimously at the October planning committee. Work will commence in January and we hope that the new facility will be handed to us this time next year.
Outstanding Planning Applications
The planning applications for the development of a small portion of our land on the northern perimeter and the installation of a 3G pitch have yet to be decided. We have been working very closely with specialist advisers to ensure that planning issues have been addressed. We are confident of getting a positive recommendation from the planning officer. Can I assure you that all receipts obtained from the sale of the land will be utilised to develop the facilities available to students.
Update: Work has begun on our new STEM centre over half term. An area to right of the College buildings has been made secure to contain the spoil that is removed from the construction site. Initially we had hoped to use the spoil to landscape the area but that idea had now been rejected and the spoil will be removed from site.
Additional fencing has been put in place to try and deter people climbing the top gate and the Friar Close fence. This is a precautionary measure to keep people safe. There will be vehicular movement in that area. As soon as the spoil is removed the need for fencing will be reviewed and appropriate action taken.
Asset of Community Value
The strip of land in question was nominated as an Asset of Community Value by a local pressure group. I can assure you that the listing of our land as an ACV does not provide the pressure group with any real control over the land’s use, sale, or price. It is largely toothless in terms of giving real rights to such groups. All the ACV regime provides is an extra six months for the group to raise funds and convince us to sell to them. The ACV affords a right to bid, not a right to be considered and they could have always exercised that right when the land comes to the market. The College land is private property and there are signs requesting the public not to trespass. In recent years we have allowed permissive access on weekdays in term time but not at other times. We have removed permissive access to the campus.
The College has identified the top gate as a potential risk to the safety to students, staff and to the security of college buildings and grounds. As we share the campus with 5 other educational establishments, this risk potentially impacts the safety of thousands of students.
I have raised the issue of closing the top gate with the other schools on the campus, all either welcome this or have no issue with this. From a safeguarding perspective all the schools would prefer pupils to use the designated entrance only. I am informed that the local pressure group is seeking to have various access points to the campus including the top gate and several garden gates opening onto our land as having a ‘right of way’. This is something we will be opposing. We have a duty to safeguard the pupils and students attending the schools and the College and having unfettered access is not acceptable. We will be reviewing access arrangements across the site over the coming months.
I have submitted a £350,000 bid for the refurbishment of the Kitchen. The kitchen and refectory were originally designed for 260 boys we now serve 1200 covers per day. I think it is true to say that the catering team do a fantastic job in a fairly demanding environment.
I have also submitted a £215,000 bid to build a female and gender neutral toilet block.
The outcome of both bids should be known by Easter.