Paston College at North Walsham set to build new classroom block

North Norfolk's biggest college is set to build a �200,000 classroom block as it gets used to staying on its current split-site in North Walsham.

Paston College was looking to move to a new �23m campus on its playing field, but shelved the plans 'for the foreseeable future' when government money dried up in 2009 and 2010.

Now it is focusing on its current buildings at the Lawns and Griffons sites, and has plans to increase its student numbers from 750 to 850 this month and eventually to 1,000.

And one of the first moves in the new plan has been made, with a planning application submitted to North Norfolk District Council for a four-classroom block to replace mobile classrooms on the Lawns site.

The project is funded almost entirely by the Young Person's Learning Agency (YPLA), which took over responsibility for post-16 education funding when the Learning and Skills Council was scrapped last year.

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College vice-principal Tim Ellen said: 'We don't see an immediate prospect of a move to the Station Road site. Given the economic situation and government spending projections, that's not going to be on the cards, but five-10 years down the line who knows?

'In the meantime, we can't just wait around and do nothing.'

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He added that a newly-refurbished and expanded cafe area was about to be opened, while there were plans for other improvements 'in the next few years'.

And in a letter to the district council, which will decide the application during the autumn, he said: 'I believe this development will be both practical and will look good. It will allow a reduction in heating costs and give a better environment for staff and students.'

The plans have been prepared by Built Offsite Ltd, and comprise a single-storey building that will be finished with horizontal cedar cladding.

The company said: 'The proposed building is intended to compliment the listed building on site and fit in with the natural characteristics on the part of the site it is located within.

'The cedar finish is intended to enhance this area of Paston College, providing an attractive backdrop with existing trees in this location.'

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