Paston College in multi-million pound improvement drive as principal states supermarket plan ‘not viable’
09:49 25 January 2013
Paston College is planning millions of pounds of improvements as speculative proposals for a supermarket on one of its sites look set to be shelved.
Principal Kevin Grieve said record numbers of students applying for places at the North Walsham sixth-form college meant that his priority was to create extra facilities and to modernise others.
Paston has just ploughed £700,000 into buying and converting the former Norfolk County Council children’s services building which adjoins its site at the junction of Market Street and Aylsham Road.
And the college is now bidding for £1.5m to refurbish its science block as growing numbers of students apply to study sciences.
It will hear in March whether it has been successful with its application to the government’s Building Condition Improvement Fund.
Mr Grieve said the sum was one of the biggest investments in the college’s history and he intended bidding for £1m from the fund in each following year to provide the best-possible resources, with student numbers expected to top 900 next year.
Last October consultants began investigating the possibility of building a supermarket on Paston’s Lawns site, with cash from the sale being ploughed into redeveloping facilities on the Griffons site.
Their report, commissioned by North Norfolk District Council, is due to be discussed by the council’s cabinet in March.
But Mr Grieve said he did not believe the idea would work: “I think it’s not going to be viable.
“I can’t see that a major supermarket chain is going to give us funds to create a world-class facility at The Griffons site.
“We have got plenty of room to continue to expand on the Lawns and Griffons sites over the next three to five years,” he added.
Paston’s success, according to Mr Grieve, was due to its high academic performance, with more than 98pc of last year’s leavers passing A-levels, 52pc with A*-B grades.
The college was also bucking the national trend with more students applying for university places, and record numbers gaining places at the most prestigious.
The former county council building is being integrated into the campus and will become a new student centre, offering information, work and social areas, while the existing centre will be used for extra teaching space and to give students more IT facilities for extra study.
All improvements are due to be finished by September.