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Bexley College's future secured by planning approval
THE FUTURE of Bexley College has been secured after its plans for a new campus in Erith town centre were approved.
Bexley Council’s planning committee approved the college’s two planning applications on Thursday (July 5) – one to build a £20million campus on a derelict site and another to demolish its old campus in Tower Road, Belvedere, to replace it with 192 homes.
Principal Danny Ridgeway said: “It secures the college’s future.
“There has been a Further Education college in Bexley for 100 years, and without the planning permission we may not have had one in 10 years.”
The college’s current home in Tower Road is an inefficient 1960s tower block, which costs £300,000 a year just for heating and gas bills.
Mr Ridgeway said: “The current building is 50 years past its sell-by date.
“We have significant problems with heating and windows, which we are patching up, but the cost to the college rises and there will come a point where it has consequences for the future of the college.”
He added: “This is good news for staff and students since it secures the future of a rapidly improving College. “It is welcome news for the businesses of Erith because of the spending power of our staff and students. It is also great news for the community that will have state of the art learning facilities in Erith Town Centre for decades to come.”
The new three-storey campus, off Stonewood Road, will include a cafe, gym, hair and beauty studios and parking for 41 cars.
It will also include a pedestrian walkway to Erith station.
It is expected that it would cater for around 420 to 480 of its 1,535 pupils and 220 staff at any one time.
Mr Ridgeway said there had been “overwhelming support” from the community, businesses, Bexley Council, politicians and groups such as the Erith Town Centre Forum, who all backed the plans.
The building of the college will be made possible by the development of the old site into housing.
Mr Ridgeway said he hoped the students will move in by September 2014, with “the first shovels in the ground” by January.