Land-for-homes sale ‘essential’ to keep college from closing

Insolvency warning if £45m redevelopment falls through

Insolvency warning if £45m redevelopment falls through

11 May 2023, 19:07

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Beleaguered Brooklands College will be forced to close if plans for a major redevelopment that includes selling land for more than 300 new homes falls through, its principal has admitted.

A planning application was submitted to Elmbridge Borough Council yesterday seeking permission for a project that will pump £45 million into the Weybridge college.

The cash is vital in securing the college’s future as it would be used to repay a £25 million debt to the government that is being demanded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) following an apprenticeship subcontracting scandal, which was uncovered by FE Week several years ago.

If approved, the redevelopment scheme will deliver 320 new homes, including 128 “affordable homes” for local families, a new sports centre, a community hub and public access to 12 hectares of woodland.

Brooklands College principal Christine Ricketts said: “These plans are absolutely essential to securing the future of the college. Not only will they put the college on a stable, financial footing, they will upgrade our teaching buildings and provide us with a state-of-the-art campus to provide the highest standards of training and vocational learning.”

The college, which has failed to file accounts since 2018, recently agreed a repayment plan for the debt with the ESFA, which allows three years to secure a planning approval.

A spokesperson for the college said that without the sale of the land for residential development, the college “would be in an insolvent position, which could result in its forced closure and the land sold to a developer”.

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  1. They probably won’t be alone here. How many colleges are having to sell real estate to stay afloat? And unhelpful now if, as public sector bodies, their “public sector” land is being devalued by higher affordable housing quotas?