‘Serious concerns’ over £12m ‘box-shaped college’

The Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus
The Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus

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MEMBERS of Gosport’s council last night signalled ‘serious concerns’ over the design and the courses offered at a college due to be built at the Daedalus enterprise zone.

Councillors at the borough council’s regulatory board expressed disappointment over the current plans for the £12m Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Advanced Skills Training (CEMAST).

It will be run by Fareham College and is due to open in September 2014.

As previously reported in The News, Gosport’s council had put forward a report with comments over the lack of ‘landmark’ design, after the original plans were changed.

Those had seen curved glass architecture, which Gosport’s leader cllr Mark Hook said he was disappointed had now been removed.

He said: ‘We fully support the college and the need for the college on the enterprise zone.

‘I have to say I am disappointed that the original proposals with the curved architecture and the like have been dropped and we have more of a box-shaped college.’

Councillors agreed with cllr Hook to amend its comments, now saying the council has three ‘serious concerns’.

On top of the design, he said there must be space for a landmark feature near the college, which will be at the entrance to the enterprise zone.

And thirdly, the council has concerns over the teaching of automotive engineering.

The zone was designed for marine, aviation, aerospace and advanced engineering.

But Fareham College wants to teach automotive engineering at CEMAST when it opens.

They will have no second or third year students in the new courses at the college.

Cllr Hook said this may lead to the closure of automotive engineering training at the Fareham Reach Skills Centre.

He said: ‘We need to set this up as a college to do with aviation, marine engineering and advanced technologies.

‘What I would hope for is if they are bringing automotive engineering in to start with, they should take that back out after the aviation and marine engineering takes up.’

‘My concern is that the opportunity to bring in the automotive engineering and potentially closing the Fareham Reach side is a backwards step.’

Cllr Christopher Carter echoed cllr Hook’s concern over the courses on offer and added he hopes the plans will progress in time for the scheduled opening.

Around 80 per cent of the enterprise zone is within Fareham Borough Council.

Gosport councillors agreed in March not to consider an application, instead submitting comments as a consultee.

Cllr Sean Woodward is leader of Fareham’s council.

He said the Solent LEP, Hampshire County Council and the Skills Funding Agency may want to look at the provision of courses.

He said: ‘The planning committee will take very seriously the comments of Gosport Borough Council.

‘I think that’s an important point (about automotive engineering) that they’ve made and its one I expect we’d be looking at.

‘I don’t think the original proposals were proposals – they were artists’ impressions.

‘It’s all very good drawing pretty pictures but then you need to design a functional building, which I think still needs to be striking.’