College rebuild will need rethink

A �23m rebuild of Paston College needs a radical rethink because of government funding cuts and changes, its chief admitted this week.The 750-student college at North Walsham was one of just eight chosen from 93 nationwide to showcase their activities at the launch of a new national sixth form college sector in London on Wednesday.

A �23m rebuild of Paston College needs a radical rethink because of government funding cuts and changes, its chief admitted this week.

The 750-student college at North Walsham was one of just eight chosen from 93 nationwide to showcase their activities at the launch of a new national sixth form college sector in London on Wednesday.

Before heading to the session at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre principal Peter Mayne said the new era could help Paston in furthering its vision for the future.

Paston, which serves the north Norfolk area, won planning permission for a �23m new-build scheme on the edge of town, to replace its long running split site in the centre, but was then hit by a national funding shortage affecting 144 similar plans.


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However Mr Mayne hoped the switch to a new funding body - The Young People's Funding Agency which replaces the Learning and Skills Council - and a closer working relationship with Norfolk County Council could help in getting its plans for a rebuild back on track.

He conceded the original scheme would 'have to be radically re-appraised,' but he was confident that the authorities would see the value in a new college for the area - though the levels of funding available would not be clear until after the general election.

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Paston's planned move from its historic Griffons site, where Lord Nelson was a pupil at the old Paston School, and its linked Lawns site which was formerly the local girls' high school, caused some controversy among neighbours of the Station Road site concerned about traffic and being overlooked by the college building. Traders were also concerned about the impact of local shops if the students moved away from the town centre.

But it won planning permission in December 2008, and hoped to have the new complex open by next year, only to find the scheme put on ice because of the national funding problems.

Mr Mayne said the level of public spending after the election was still unknown, but he was an optimist and hoped the new system would enable progress. Talks with the county council would be the next step.

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