Paston College £23m move a step closer
A £23m relocation of Paston College within North Walsham is edging closer to becoming a reality as councillors get ready to debate amended plans.The switch of the sixth form college from its historic town centre site to a purpose-built campus next to the Victory swimming pool has sparked concerns including traffic and design issues.
A £23m relocation of Paston College within North Walsham is edging closer to becoming a reality as councillors get ready to debate amended plans.
The switch of the sixth form college from its historic town centre site to a purpose-built campus next to the Victory swimming pool has sparked concerns including traffic and design issues.
A re-jig of the scheme goes back in front of North Norfolk District Council's east area development control committee today- with a report saying the main sticking point over highways “appears to be close to resolution.”
Councillors are being recommended to approve the scheme, providing they and county highways roadway officials were also happy with the amended plan's road widening and reconfiguration of the entrance.
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Paston is seeking to move away from a split site, part of which has roots stretching back 400 years and to famous former pupil Horatio Nelson, in a bid to expand and improve its educational facilities.
College chiefs have described it as a “make or break” decision, needed to access government funding, and to compete with other county colleges undergoing major improvements.
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The new campus for 1000 teenagers would include computer, art, science, drama and sporting facilities, and 140 car parking spaces off Station Road.
The college, which currently has 800 students, needs to expand capacity to cope with new diploma courses and a future need for more students to stay in education until the age of 18.
While it is supported by industry, training and regeneration groups, there have been 450 people sign letters and a petition of objection - raising concerns including extra traffic, the size and design of the building and.
The committee deferred a decision last month to seek design and traffic improvements, along with assurances about community use of the sports facilities.
Paston's new plans address all those, and a report to councillors says design improvements now made it acceptable, adding that the modern look fitted with its need to be a “building of this era.”
Moving the buildings on site meant there was no significant impact on local homes, and while there would be some additional traffic at peak times “this localised impact will need to be considered in the context of the wider public good to be achieved in the maintenance and enhancement of educational opportunities for the district.”
However one of the opponents, Rob Knee, said the amendments to the plans added to the “11th hour” nature of a plan he felt was being rushed, and did not answer all the concerns about traffic and the impact on the town centre.
The highways department's apparent backtrack from demanding road and path improvements to just a redesign of the entrance failed to provide safety for students or residents.