£12m landmark college building gets the go-ahead

Portsmouth MP visits his former childhood stomping ground

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A LANDMARK college at the Solent Enterprise Zone in Fareham has been approved.

The design had been criticised by councillors in the neighbouring authority, Gosport Borough Council, who said the building lacked ‘wow factor’ and that it was too ‘box-like’.

But Fareham Borough Council approved the plans at its planning meeting.

Councillors there hailed the plans as ‘inspirational’ and ‘superb’.

Chair of the planning committee Cllr Nick Walker said: ‘We’re so used to dealing with plans for boxes and this is a breath of fresh air. No matter what our colleagues in Gosport believe, any other type of design would not look right on that site.

‘It’s an interesting design and I commend it to you as leader of our design council.’

Fareham North-West ward councillor Peter Davies said: ‘This is a superb building.’

The committee discussed the amount of parking provided on the site and also the public transport links.

Titchfield ward councillor Connie Hockley said: ‘I wish them every success. I do have some concerns that there is not enough parking. But if there isn’t, then they will have to come back before us again.’

Work will begin shortly on the site, with the college opening in September 2014.

The college will offer a range of marine, aerospace, aviation and automotive engineering courses.

It will cost £12million to build and will provide education for around 900 students.

Peter Marsh, deputy principal, said: ‘This is exciting purpose-built centre which will support the training of skilled engineers and help boost the local economy.

‘With an impressive glazed frontage, a dynamic floating roof and the use of zinc and metallic cladding the design reflects the engineering focus of the Enterprise Zone – we’re delighted that our plans have been approved.’

Graham Burgess, deputy leader of Gosport Borough Council, remained unconvinced.

He said: ‘We were led to believe it would have a wow factor and be a landmark building, but as our leader said “where’s the wow factor in these plans?”.’