Wednesday, June 11, 2014

News: From rocking pub to education hub

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Rotherham College of Arts and Technology is turning the former Charter Arms pub in Rotherham town centre into a Higher Education Hub.

As reported on Rothbiz earlier this year, RCAT submitted plans to convert the 4,300 sq ft pub, which is part of the markets complex right next door to RCAT's town centre campus, for educational use.

The building will provide new social and study facilities for the college's 400 Higher Education students who study degrees, Foundation Degrees and Higher National qualifications in over 25 subjects.

Ann Hardy, assistant principal at RCAT, said: "The high quality and good value our Higher Education (HE) courses offer mean that more people are taking up the option to study locally: keeping their costs down, working alongside their course and being close to family and friends, while gaining skills for their future.

"We are also seeing growth in our Access to HE courses, which are fundable by student loans for those 24 and over, and which pave the way for adults to be ready for HE entry in just a year.

"The HE Hub building will provide new spaces for these learners separate from those used by our 16-18 students."

The building will also become the base for the college's growing offering of Higher Education courses in subjects such as Music, Performance and Photography, adding to the existing facilities across Eastwood Lane on the College campus.

Band nights, competitions and lunchtime performances are also planned, drawing in musicians and audiences from outside the college. A popular live music venue in its day, the long leasehold of The Charter Arms was up for sale for over a year with property consultants, James A Baker.

Martyn Howells, Head of Visual and Performing Arts at the College, said: "Our growing reputation as the strongest centre in the area for arts and performance means we are outgrowing our existing studios and workspaces.

"We also want to contribute to the creative and music life of the town through the events in the Hub."

Rotherham College has invested over £15m in the last three years improving the facilities after securing government funding and a £5m loan from the council. The most recent investment has seen the student run Wharncliffe restaurant undergo a complete refit. Other investments have included the opening of the new hair and beauty salons, new science and metallurgy labs and the all new eco-friendly Wentworth Building, also in the town centre. The engineering department has been renovated to create the new Engineering Centre of Excellence.

Planning permission was secured for a £70m redevelopment of the town centre campus in January 2009, the same month as the much publicised national debacle regarding the allocation of capital funds for projects by the Learning & Skills Council which meant that funding would not be forthcoming.

RCAT website

Images: James A Baker

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