MORE big plans for Barnstaple's Seven Brethren accompanied this week's news of the North Devon College relocation to the site. Describing some of the possibilities, North Devon District Council Leader Mike Harrison said: The leisure centre has a limited
MORE big plans for Barnstaple's Seven Brethren accompanied this week's news of the North Devon College relocation to the site.Describing some of the possibilities, North Devon District Council Leader Mike Harrison said:"The leisure centre has a limited life - there's quite a bit left in it but we will have to face that it will need replacing in the next six to eight years."There's a planning application in for a brand new store on the Brian Fords site and our Direct Labour Unit will have to move as part of the land swap deal."And given the amount of energy used on the site - and more in the years ahead - it was among areas being considered by Devon County Council for a modern waste-to-energy plant, he said.The new college is envisioned as an impressive and purpose-built centre of learning which will make a dramatic architectural statement and be constructed using green, sustainable methods.One intention is to include a University Centre within the complex to provide a range of degree level courses from the University of Plymouth, delivered to North Devon students on their very doorstep.College principal David Dodd said it was "unbelievably brilliant news" for all in North Devon:"It is something really needed to support both North Devon and Torridge," he said."We need to ensure we work together to meet our target opening date of September 2011."We are aiming for everyone in the area to use the new college to gain vital qualifications and skills, from introductory to degree level, coupled with the fun side of recreational experiences integrated into college life. "Indeed we see the new building as a cathedral of learning!"The impact of such a facility will change the area in more ways than one. It is anticipated the new college will create a new look to one of the main entrances to the town, with improved transport links.It is not expected to have its own car park, but will instead make use of a new park and ride facility on a site nearby, with dedicated bus drop off points designed into the plans to alleviate traffic.Mr Dodd continued: "We have not forgotten we must still invest in our existing site to ensure we continue to provide the best education for our learners over the next three years and keep up our reputation of excellent results as well as being the only outstanding college in Devon."Along with the landmark plans for Barnstaple, the college has confirmed it is working with Bideford College and Caddsdown Business Support Centre to develop a vocational education centre in Bideford.This will bring together expertise of teaching staff, local businesses and industry to develop the work related skills local commerce in Torridge have highlighted as a real need. "The need to develop skills in the area is clear and I'm excited by the proposals to work with Bideford College and Caddsdown to achieve success in vocational areas," said Mr Dodd.County Council Leader and Barnstaple councillor Brian Greenslade had his own congratulations for the success of all at the college:"The investment of £100 million coming on top of the recent £42 million investment in the new Western Bypass by Devon County Council, which has helped pave the way for the college relocation, is a tremendous boost for our area," he said."The County Council as the local authority with responsibility for education and training in the area, including expanding duties for 14-19-year-old education, looks forward to working with the college to deliver first class education and training opportunities for with a consequent boost to the local economy."Mr Greenslade said a proposed waste to energy plant was something the council had begun aspiring to more than a year ago."We think we'll need three across the county and Seven Brethren was one of the sites we were looking at, although it's still very much in the exploratory stages," he said."If it was delivered, one of our aspirations was to generate the energy we needed for that part of Barnstaple from the plant.