Funding approved for new £1.2million adult learning centre in Alnwick
Plans for a £1.2million ‘top-class’ adult education centre in Alnwick are pressing ahead after councillors approved funding.
As revealed last week, Northumberland County Council wants to develop a modern adult learning centre and community campus on the former Lindisfarne Middle School site.
Following consultation with the Alnwick Forum – a partnership between the county and town council, the plan is that the Learning and Skills Service will be based in the annexe buildings which are to be fully refurbished.
The Citizens Advice Bureau and the Alnwick Food Bank, which are currently based on the school site, will also have the opportunity to move across, as the rest of the old school buildings will be demolished to reduce ongoing running costs.
“Initially the space created can be utilised for on-site parking with the potential for an appropriate new-build development at some point
Council leader Peter Jackson said: “The easy thing to do would have been to put housing on it and maximise the capital value, but we’re not doing that.
“We have talked about adult education and this is real investment in Northumberland in what will be an absolutely top-class adult education centre.”
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Earlier in the meeting, the cabinet had agreed to support the devolution of the adult education budget of around £22million a year from central government to the North of Tyne Combined Authority.
Coun Richard Wearmouth said: “It’s great to see that we are looking at adult education on the site, because, as we said earlier, it’s going to be the case that people will need to train and retrain as things are changing so fast.
“This also demonstrates how well some of the forums are working. Thanks to the officers, the town council and the two Alnwick councillors, because it enables feedback to come back about what the public wants on the site.”
The council has already committed to retaining the playing fields and now the funding has been signed off, work on the new centre is set to start in November and be complete by July 2020.
An assessment of various options in the report states that the refurbishment cost of £1.2million ‘compares favourably with an equivalent new-build cost of £4million’.