Friday, November 25, 2016

News: Lloyds loan for Rotherham university campus

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Funding is being arranged for a proposed £12m higher education campus in Rotherham town centre.

A higher education campus for Rotherham was given priority in the borough's Growth Plan and partners at the Council and the RNN Group have been working on a bid for funding from the Sheffield city region skills capital fund - a £13m pot for training space, workshop or launch pad facilities.

Set to be built on the site where the former Victorian hospital at Doncaster Gate was controversially demolished by Rotherham Council, the centre is planned to open in 2018, and could accommodate 44,000 sq ft of space - enough to eventually house 1,000 students.

A bid for around £3.5m via the Sheffield city region is progressing and now Heads of Terms have been issued by Lloyds Bank to the RNN Group for a loan of £4.5m to replace the existing Rotherham Council loan, together with £6m to fund the Higher Skills Centre project.

Rotherham Council made a £5m long term capital finance loan available in 2010 to assist the college in delivering the £8.15m Phase 1 redevelopment of the Town Centre Campus.

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Now merged with North Notts College, Rotherham College already had ambitious plans to double the size of the HE population in three years and a new campus is needed to facilitate this. Rated "Good" by OFSTED in 2013, the college has been investing in facilities at both its town centre and Dinnington campuses as part of an £18m, four-year programme. It aims to build on this and extend its range of qualifications from level 4 through to level 6 (degree level).

Level 4 and above attainment in Rotherham is 12.7 percentage points below the national average and 4.8 percentage points below the regional average.

At the end of 2015, council commissioner Julie Kenny made the decision to enable the authority to arrange the disposal of the land at Doncaster Gate 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."

The college is also looking to purchase further land for car parking.

Architects at Bond Bryan (who worked on previous town centre campus plans) have prepared initial visuals of what the campus might look like. It is designed to have a friendly "university-style" feel, without being intimidating and create a centre for HE study away from younger students on the main Rotherham College campus.
The the new centre would focus on courses in sectors where the Rotherham economy needs more qualified people to fill jobs and to start and grow their own businesses. They include Creative Digital e.g. software and web design, IT services, computer animation, video game design, graphics, video and photography; Health Care e.g. progression routes to Nursing and a range of technical roles the NHS and care providers will need to meet growing demand; Business and enterprise e.g. leadership, management, marketing, accounting, legal services, procurement, sales, entrepreneurial skills; and Engineering e.g. progression from apprenticeships to higher skills, which many companies in the region need to grow and replace retiring workers.

RNN Group website

Images: RNN Group / Bond Bryan


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