Friday, December 11, 2015

News: Half price land deal for Rotherham university campus

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Rotherham Council is offering land at half of its full market value to Rotherham College to enable a £12m Higher Education (HE) campus to be built in Rotherham town centre.

The council-owned site on Doncaster Gate was controversially cleared, demolishing a former Victorian hospital. It could accommodate a 44,000 sq ft campus - enough space to eventually house 1,000 students. The aim is to be open for the 2017/18 academic year.

Rothbiz revealed in August that Rotherham Council was in discussions with the college over the disposal of the site as the college bids to secure £4m from the Sheffield city region skills capital fund - a £13m pot set aside for training space, workshop or launch pad facilities across the Sheffield city region.

Commissioner Julie Kenny made the "minded to" decision this week to enable the Council to arrange the disposal of the asset to Rotherham College on the basis that "the Council offers the transfer of the Freehold/Long Lease interest to Rotherham College at 50% of its Full Market Value. For a long lease this will be payment up front of a premium sum and a nominal £50 per annum thereafter."

No further details of the potential sale have been disclosed. The Council has previously supported the college with its redevelopment plans, making a £5m loan available in 2010.

In 2013, Rotherham Council's cabinet approved plans to demolish Rotherham's first purpose-built hospital in a bid to save costs and attract a greater interest in the opportunities for development of the site. The historic buildings were first put up for sale as a development site in March 2012 after serving as council offices for the previous three years alongside the adjacent health village and GP surgery.

The now cleared site was earmarked for a mix of uses including office use, housing and residential and nonresidential institutions. It was earmarked to be sold off in the 2015/16 financial year.

The new campus may not need all of the site which allows the Council to retain it for future development or for the College to purchase the additional land for future expansion. Interest in using the site, where any development will not affect the adjacent medical facilities, has come from providers of specialist housing provision.

A key part of new economic and corporate plans, Council reports pointed to the fact that Rotherham is the only town, of significant size, within the Sheffield city region without a Higher Education Centre, "which partially contributes to level 4 and above attainment in Rotherham being 12.7 percentage points below the national average and 4.8 percentage points below the regional average."

Local businesses are expected to be at the heart of the campus, with provision being industry led rather than academic. They will be involved in establishing, informing and delivering the project for Rotherham.

Rotherham College is on course to merge with North Nottinghamshire College into one organisation next year. It plans to double the size of the 300+ HE population in three years.

Rotherham College website

Images: Google Maps

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