Tuesday, December 8, 2009

News: School shop plan for Rotherham town centre


An article in the Times Education Supplement highlights that a disused department store in Rotherham town centre is to be converted into a school as part of a growing trend to use recession-hit high-street shops for teaching.

The plan is being developed by Professor Stephen Heppell, an internationally acclaimed academic, practitioner and innovator on e-learning and Professor of New Media Environments at Bournemouth University.

The article states that property companies Balfour Beatty is a partner in the project which could be completed by next year.

Similar schemes can be seen in retail sites in other countries, including New Zealand, the US and Thailand.

Professor Heppell told the TES: "Rotherham's a nice place, but when you walk through it, it's quite sad because whole streets are boarded up.

"When Burger King had gone there was a sign in the window saying "Nothing of value left in these premises" - and I tried to imagine what had ever been there of value. The thought you might put learning in, and draw people back, is wonderful."

"If you own the freehold of a shop, you are facing meltdown because it's boarded-up and it's going to start leaking, nobody wants to use it. But if you give it over to learning for, say, three years, it's going to stay warm, the roof isn't going to leak and people are going to walk down the street because it's an interesting place to come again. You will put the life back in, and your property keeps value on the balance sheet."

Rotherham Council's "Meanwhile Project" has recently launched aiming to bring life and footfall back to the town centre by improving the look of vacant units throughout the town centre.

TES article


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