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Bradford campus plans in limbo
Bradford College’s plans for a new £120 million campus are in limbo after Government funding for the key development has been put on hold.
The Learning and Skills Council, the body responsible for allocating funds, has frozen the Building Colleges for the Future programme as there is not enough money left in the pot after an influx of bids.
The current round of spending has already allocated £2.3 billion to improving college buildings and more than £2bn has been spent since the scheme began in 1997.
Bradford is now among dozens of other colleges which have received approval in principle, but now face an uncertain future over plans to transform their campuses.
A review is currently taking place to prioritise the 79 schemes that have passed the first stage and the 65 schemes from colleges which have just submitted their bids. Together they total £5.7bn of extra funding required.
The college said it had gone ahead in good faith after discussing its plans fully with the LSC and has invested more than £2m in progressing the project for final approval.
Michele Sutton, Bradford College principal and chief executive, described the campus plans as “one of the most innovative learning environments in the country”.
She said: “After receiving assurances by the LSC throughout the process that funding would be available to fund the development, this news comes as a very nasty shock.
“The development is integral to the regeneration of the City of Bradford and is a key feature of the Learning Quarter. Bradford College is at the forefront of delivering education and skills to 23,000 school leavers, businesses and adults and increasingly more who have been affected by the recession, so it is vital that we receive this investment.
And Bradford Council leader Councillor Kris Hopkins described the situation as “nothing short of scandalous”.
“This is a major blow for the College, local students and also the district’s economy given the number of jobs that would have been created. Clearly, if the Government had wanted the scheme to be progressed then it would have happened,” he said.
A £96m funding application was submitted to the LSC and the first stage of approval was granted last year. It follows funding of the first phase of the college’s accommodation strategy, Trinity Green Campus, for which the LSC provided funding of ten per cent.
The second phase, the £120m campus, is to be built on the site of the college’s Westbrook and Randall Well buildings and Alexandra car park, off Great Horton Road. It will cover an area of 37,500 square metres and the target date for completion is 2012.
Gerry Sutcliffe, MP for Bradford South and Minister for Sport, said: “Obviously we all want Bradford College’s fantastic plans to be a top priority for the LSC and I’m sure that all of the district’s politicians, whatever their party, will get behind the College’s lobbying campaign.”
An LSC spokesman said: “Clearly, there are more schemes currently presenting applications than can be funded in this spending round and not all schemes can be implemented in the original timescales envisaged. We will consult urgently, and as quickly as possible, with the Association of Colleges and other key sector organisations on proposals and a strategy for prioritisation for future projects.”
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