West Anglia College plans backed

Chris Hill Plans for a new College of West Anglia campus in King's Lynn cleared a major hurdle last night as councillors gave the proposals the go-ahead.West Norfolk Council's development control board unanimously backed the ambitious project in the Nar Ouse Regeneration Area (Nora) in South Lynn, and agreed to allow the existing Tennyson Avenue site to be sold to housing developers.

Chris Hill

Plans for a new College of West Anglia campus in King's Lynn cleared a major hurdle last night as councillors gave the proposals the go-ahead.

West Norfolk Council's development control board unanimously backed the ambitious project in the Nar Ouse Regeneration Area (Nora) in South Lynn, and agreed to allow the existing Tennyson Avenue site to be sold to housing developers.

It means the college can finalise a £160m funding application to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to build the Lynn campus, and replace its Isle Campus in Wisbech with a centre in March.


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But it also clears the way for an additional £7.1m to be raised from land sales which college bosses said was crucial to their progress.

Gordon Gillespie, the college's director of capital developments, said: “It is a great relief that the first part of the jigsaw is in place. We are all very excited about the prospect of building our new campus and today was a very important day in that process.

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“We are going through a large application to the LSC, so the £7.1m we set aside to generate from our disposal sites may seem like a piffling amount, but the funds generated from this are absolutely critical.”

A third outline scheme for the redevelopment of Plaxtole House in Goodwins Road was also approved, but two further plans to dispose of property in Ebbs Field and Gaywood Field, also in Lynn, were withdrawn following objections about their potential impact on the surrounding

area.

Mr Gillespie said it would not affect plans to open the Lynn campus in September 2012.

“It does not make a significant hole,” he said. “Realistically, we had down-valued across all the disposal sites, and it is still sustainable even though we did not get all the Lynn sites through.”

The number of dwellings on the redundant Tennyson Avenue site will be limited to 220, and the college must also meet conditions set by the Highways Agency.

Councillors were told the college's £500,000 pledge towards road improvements could be spent on traffic signals and widening of the slip roads of the Saddlebow A47 roundabout - considered the main access route to the south.

The meeting also heard a separate £5m bid for funding towards Nora infrastructure would, if successful, be spent on improving the South Gate roundabout to the north of the development.

David Higgins, senior engineer for Norfolk County Council, said: “Things might not be perfect when the college opens, but there is an expectation that when all this development is in place there will be really good facilities there.

“There is a balance to be struck between the benefit of the development and the traffic concerns which councillors have raised.”

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