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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Community plans for Workington's empty sixth form centre

Ambitious plans have been revealed to give Workington’s empty sixth form centre a new lease of life.

Parts of the Moorclose campus would be passed into community ownership under the proposals.

Buildings have stood empty since September when students moved to a new base within Southfield Technology College.

But members of Moorclose Community Centre are looking into the possibility of managing the site to safeguard its future.

Gerald Humes, county councillor and director of the community centre, said: “Following the closure of the sixth form college the site has faced an uncertain future and now represents a potential liability to the council, particularly in light of continuing austerity cuts.

“Public bodies have powers to transfer buildings to local communities. This process has been shown to deliver tangible and long-lasting benefits by empowering people to develop their own solutions to local problems.”

The work, while still subject to public consultation, is likely to include major refurbishment of the sports hall and changing rooms, redevelopment of the theatre and auditorium as a conference venue, and the creation of a community cafe.

It could also include a pioneering youth venue, and the conversion of classrooms into employment and training centres.

The complex houses a public library, but it is uncertain whether this would form part of the community asset transfer.

A working group, which will report to the board of the Moorclose Community Centre, will develop a business plan and seek funding for a feasibility study.

It is expected to take about a year to consult residents and gauge the level of community support.

James Watson, of the Natural Regeneration Consultancy, is acting as project advisor.

Mr Humes added: “My idea is for a one-stop shop for local charities and community groups but we would have to be sure that it would stack up.”

He added that the sports hall, theatre and arts block could become a resource centre with youth provision.

According to a briefing paper, potential benefits would include bringing empty buildings back into use, helping disadvantaged communities and creating improved financial security for the Moorclose Community Centre charity.

The county council has already agreed in principle to the transfer of the former CDT block which has been occupied by the Moorclose Community Centre charity since 1992.

A council spokesman said: “We are continuing to work with local people to look at future uses for the Moorclose campus.”

Have your say

to Gerald humes,,,,,,,,,,,what austerity cuts?
you had £100,000 to spare to do up a tip that's derwent park,and for what?
who has benefited,certainly not the council tax payers,so where did all the money go that this was supposedly gonna happen?
I,d love to see the final figure that was spent on this venture,,,,,,,,cmon mr humes what was the final cost?

Posted by cynical west cumbrian on 5 January 2014 at 19:05

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