No money for new college in Barnstaple

PLANS for regenerating the centre of Barnstaple have suffered a huge setback after news North Devon College has lost its �125 million bid for a new college at Seven Brethren. The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) announced just before noon today (Friday)

PLANS for regenerating the centre of Barnstaple have suffered a huge setback after news North Devon College has lost its �125 million bid for a new college at Seven Brethren.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) announced just before noon today (Friday) which colleges would be receiving money for new buildings - and North Devon was not among them.

Of the 13 projects it will fund, none are in the South West and a college spokesman said it was "astonishing" the LSC was not going to spread the money around the country.

Principal David Dodd said in the past 16 years the college had seen just �2 million of investment from the Government.


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"Today's announcement just adds insult to injury, particularly when you consider the time, money and energy that we and our partners have invested in this project over the last four-and-a-half years," he said.

"Given the relatively small amount of money on the table, we recognise funding a project of North Devon's scale and ambition is difficult at this time, but this is still a huge disappointment.

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"While we're pleased for those colleges who are getting something, to a college that has nothing it means nothing.

"I am hopeful changes within the LSC will draw a line under this appalling mess and ensure the Building Colleges for the Future programme actually does what it says on the tin."

The Government "quango" came under fire in the new year when it was revealed it did not have enough money to fund all the projects it had agreed to in principal.

The �125 million move to a new state-of-the-art campus on the riverfront in the centre of Barnstaple had been seen as a boost not only for education in the area but a way to kick start regeneration.

In a statement released today, LSC chief executive Geoff Russell said of the successful bids:

"These are the projects that will bring the greatest benefit to learners and communities across the country.

"They will have a substantial impact on the education and skills environment in their locality by transforming the condition of college buildings."

The LSC statement added: For colleges which have not been selected to proceed this year, the next steps will start this autumn when we will further consult with the sector to agree a robust, fair and transparent process for prioritising the capital investment programme for the next Spending Review period starting in 2011/12. The size and scope of the programme will depend in large part on the outcome of the next Spending Review."

On Tuesday North Devon councillors had been set to debate the planning application for the new 35,981 square metre campus plus development of a 590 space park and ride facility at land in Roundswell.

A disappointed Mr Dodd said it was not the end of the road for the bid to create a new college in North Devon: "Buildings are important but it's what goes on inside that really matters and North Devon College's students and staff make us an outstanding success. Not many colleges can say that; new buildings or not.

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