A £45m further education investment in Luton will create “a beacon of aspiration for local students and adults”, a meeting heard.
Applicant West Herts College submitted full plans to demolish buildings and develop modern replacements on its New Bedford Road site, with an access and parking.
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And an outline application to build up to 119 homes on its Enterprise Way campus has been approved on five-and-a-half acres of land between Enterprise Way and Quantock Rise.
“Phase two aims to deliver a specialist construction and engineering building to replace the Enterprise Way campus, providing scope for future growth,” said a report to borough councillors.
Planning team leader Clive Inwards told the council’s development management committee: “Phase one is nearing completion at the northern end of the site.
“The phase two four-storey specialist construction and engineering building will accommodate all the current provision at Enterprise Way,” he explained.
“The phase three building is a two-storey sports hall to replace the outdated one, which would be lost during phase two. A colonnade will provide a connection between each of the three buildings.
“Jobs will be created during construction and when it’s operational, as the number of staff is anticipated to increase as student numbers rise.”
Originally a large warehouse, the Enterprise Way premises will be replaced by four blocks of four-storey flats with a pocket park.
Principal of West Herts College Gill Worgan said: “The construction and engineering facilities at Enterprise Way are in need of an upgrade and modernisation.
“Phases two and three require £45m investment. Of that, around £32m will be dispensed on the new centre.
“This will provide state-of-the-art premises and the modern skills local businesses and residents require to access high value jobs.
“The building will be a beacon of aspiration for local students and adults, and will engage them in the type of education and training they need to improve their life chances.
“The phase three sports building, coupled with the playing fields at the site, will provide a community asset with important recreation facilities for local people to use.
“These developments will make a direct impact on Luton’s long-term prosperity and productivity.”
She described selling the Enterprise Way site as “critical to the delivery of the new centre”, adding: “This will offer much needed homes for Luton, with an affordable housing element, as well as enable a modern further education college for local people and businesses.”
Labour Farley councillor Mahmood Hussain said: “What’s been developed already is quite attractive and this will make it even better.
“We want not only skills, but sports facilities fit for today which children can access from all parts of the town, so I strongly support it.”
There are 1,040 full-time students enrolled at the college, which will increase to 1,300 when phase one is completed.
Following phase two, 800 students at Enterprise Way would be transferred to New Bedford Road.