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£20m Paston College plan being unveiled

PUBLISHED: 18:26 09 June 2008 | UPDATED: 08:59 13 July 2010

A vision for the future of North Norfolk's main sixth form college is being unveiled to the public this weekend.

It involves a £20m relocation of historic Paston College away from a North Walsham town centre seat of learning that counts Nelson among its old boys.

A vision for the future of North Norfolk's main sixth form college is being unveiled to the public this weekend.

It involves a £20m relocation of historic Paston College away from a North Walsham town centre seat of learning that counts Nelson among its old boys.

The aim is to move from that split site, despite its 400-year history, to a purpose-built campus next to the Victory Pool.

It is aimed at providing modern facilities for sixth form students whose numbers are expected to rise from the current 700 to 1,000 after the hoped-for opening date of September 2011.

On Friday and Saturday the shape of things to come at the college will be revealed to the public for the first time in an exhibition which is a prelude to seeking planning permission and funding.

The display at the pool, manned by people who can explain the project, is a chance for locals to give their views ahead of plans being finalised.

College vice-principal Tim Ellen said they expected issues such as traffic to be raised through the exhibition but assured the move to new facilities was “good news for North Norfolk”.

The college's roots date back to 1606 when a school was founded by benefactor Sir William Paston, one of the richest men in Norfolk.

Its 18th century roll call of pupils included a young Horatio Nelson, whose lessons included sailing on Barton Broad.

Later the school evolved into Paston Grammar, then linked up with the former girls high school on the nearby Lawns site to become the main sixth form college for much of North Norfolk.

School officials have acknowledged a move away from those historic roots will be a wrench, but say it is now essential for its future development.

Mr Ellen said feasibility studies had looked at options for improving facilities, including refurbishing its existing buildings, but came to the conclusion a new single campus was the best way forward.

It would include a new theatre, to build on the college's strong reputation for drama, and a sports hall to replace a “1950s school gym,” along with an all-weather floodlit pitch, and classrooms for a range of courses from IT to art.

The new campus, with some solar-powered water heating, would also be much more efficient and cheaper to run.

Funding of the move would mainly come from the government's Learning and Skills Council, boosted by the sale of the Lawns site for redevelopment.

The historic Griffons site, along with the site of the planned new college, is owned by the Paston Foundation.

While the main buildings were protected by planning restraints there was still scope for redevelopment, said Mr Ellen.

*The exhibition runs from noon to 8pm Friday and 10am to 2pm on Saturday. Material will also be available on the college and district council websites

www.paston.ac.uk and www.north-norfolk.gov.uk


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