Limbo for Barnfield College’s plan to move into Luton town centre

Bute Street car park
Bute Street car park

Plans for Barnfield College to move into Bute Street car park in Luton town centre remain in limbo following its merger with West Hertfordshire College.

Barnfield’s merger was formally concluded last week during a celebration of its 50th birthday in the town.

A spokesman for West Herts College told Luton News: “The college wishes it to be known that while it does intend to redevelop campus buildings and facilities, no decision has been taken regarding locations.”

Bute Street car park was acquired by Barnfield from Luton Borough Council in July 2017, as part of a £57m planned move into the town centre due in summer 2018.

To help finance the venture, the college’s other land assets at New Bedford Road and Enterprise Way were put on the market, but failed to find a buyer.

In January 2018, Barnfield College was rated ‘Requires Improvement’ in its inspection by Ofsted.

Three months later, the college was placed in administered status by the skills minister Anne Milton MP, following serious concerns about its financial management.

A report by the Further Education Commissioner found finances were “a major cause for concern” with operating losses in 2015/16, 2016/17 and expected in 2017/18.

Barnfield Principal Tim Eyton-Jones also stepped down in April 2018, having faced criticism in the FE Commissioner’s report.

He was later succeeded as Principal at Barnfield by Cath Gunn, former Vice-Principal of West Herts College.