Thumbs up for £27m redevelopment of Barnfield College campus plus 110 new homes

A £27m project to redevelop the Barnfield College campus has been approved by Luton Borough Council.

Monday, 1st June 2020, 7:11 pm
Updated Monday, 1st June 2020, 7:14 pm

Applicant West Herts College plans to demolish some buildings and provide a state-of-the-art new campus along with new college accommodation, as well as car parking on the 15-acre site.

There will also be improvements to the grassed area along New Bedford Road and a new sports area, a report to the council's development control committee stated.

These works will be carried out in two phases, with a further two stages planned at a later date.

An artist's rendition of the new campus

West Herts College principal Gill Worgan said: "The new college is a £27m investment that will give local people the modern skills needed to secure jobs.

"And it will provide local businesses with a steady supply of people who are skilled and qualified for jobs at all levels."

To enable funding of the project, a parcel of land has been allocated for a residential development of 110 new homes.

Outline planning permission for these new homes also received approval, with the college set to sell the land to a property developer while overseeing construction of its new campus.

An aerial view of the approved plans

"All money raised from the land sale will go directly into funding the new campus, with this investment absolutely essential for financing the project," added Ms Worgan.

Barnfield College was rescued from its previous financial troubles in February 2019 when it merged with West Herts College.

Car parking on site will be reduced from 367 to 179 spaces to encourage other means of travel, such as cycling and public transport.

Main access will be via Barnfield Avenue, and a new football pitch will replace the former playing field.

This pitch is intended for community use outside college hours, but no floodlighting or changing rooms are proposed.

During the committee hearing last Thursday, Labour Limbury councillor Rob Roche said: "I find the community use for the football pitch quite staggering because it won't be used for half the year without floodlights.

"I would like to see it used all year round."

Labour Farley councillor Dave Taylor, who chairs the committee, replied: "I think local residents would have a problem with floodlights.

"We have come across this issue before with the glare."

A senior council officer said this could be looked during future phases of the college redevelopment.

Liberal Democrat Barnfield councillor David Franks proposed amending the plans with the pedestrian entrance shifted from the north-west corner of the site to the north-east, where it would be next to a drop-off layby.

The amendment was lost and councillors approved the redevelopment by a margin of seven votes to two.