STUDENTS at Worthing College may be enjoying a brand-new premises by spring next year, after councillors unanimously approved the college’s £24million relocation to The Warren, at Broadwater.
Worthing councillors at the planning committee meeting on Wednesday, last week, gave full planning permission for the new college to move to the former Aviva site, despite concerns over road safety, congestion and the loss of potential employment.
Supporting the funding for the development will also be the construction of 301 new homes – 36 executive-style homes north of The Warren site, and 265 homes of various sizes at the Bolsover Road site, which will be vacated by Worthing College.
The Bolsover Road site will also feature a small cluster of buildings for business purposes.
Speaking at the meeting held at Worthing Town Hall, Heene ward councillor Paul High said: “This plan is not perfect, and there are areas which need to be addressed, but I think we owe it to Worthing’s future generations to provide them with a top-class education facility.”
The college, which has approximately 1,700 students and staff, will adopt and convert the vacant Aviva offices into an education facility which will include a performing arts centre, new science laboratories, art studios and new social areas for students.
The site will also encompass two full-size sports pitches and five flood-lit tennis courts, which can be converted into four netball courts.
However, concerns were raised about the safety and accessibility of the site, including the number of available parking spaces, which has been reduced from 609 to 227.
Sarah Griffiths, chair of the Hill Barn Lane Residents’ Association, said: “If at least 1,500 students and staff are going to be entering or exiting the site at peak time, that’s 3,000 crossings a day, on a junction which already has major problems. It will cause complete chaos.
“Not only that, students will park along Hill Barn Lane and cause even more problems for residents.”
Selden ward councillor James Doyle said the proposal was a wasted opportunity for economic growth.
“On this site, 923 people could be employed,” he said. “This proposal will mean only 1.3 per cent of that amount will have employment. Over the past two years, 12 different companies have expressed interest in this site, so it is not as if the buyers are not there.”
He added: “I oppose this proposal on three grounds – there is unacceptable employment, insufficient affordable housing and unsustainable provisions for non-car users, all of which contradict the planning department’s core strategy. If you approve this application, you render those guidelines worthless.”
Worthing College students attended the meeting in support of the application.
Year-12 student Lisa Whiting, 16, said: “Worthing College has a fantastic enthusiasm for learning, but this is hindered by the environment.
“The new build will be an aspirational place for learning, and will inspire the students who attend.”
All seven councillors voted to approve the new college site and the two linked housing developments.
The councillors in attendance were Joan Bradley, Nicky Waight, Christine Brown, Mary Harding, Paul Howard, Trevor England and Paul High.