Contractors in place for £100m college

PUBLISHED: 11:18 17 January 2008 | UPDATED: 12:46 06 May 2010

CONTRACTORS have been appointed to build the new £100-million development of Oaklands College in St Albans - even though the planning application has been withdrawn. The contract for work on the Smallford Campus has been awarded to construction firm Willi

CONTRACTORS have been appointed to build the new £100-million development of Oaklands College in St Albans - even though the planning application has been withdrawn.

The contract for work on the Smallford Campus has been awarded to construction firm William Verry who say they are now entering into second-stage negotiations with the college, focusing on issues such as firming up prices, getting sub-contractors in place and general liaison.

Oaklands principal Mark Dawe said: "Although this might seem like putting the cart before the horse, it is actually common practice in the public sector especially in the field of education.

"We plan to submit another application in February and the contractors will work alongside us so that if we get planning permission they will be ready to roll."

An earlier application for the new hub-and-spoke development (pictured) covering all the Oaklands campuses but with the main buildings housed at Smallford was submitted to the district council in June 2007.

But it was later withdrawn because there was insufficient time to iron out problems highlighted by planning officers before the committee was to look at it.

Changes had to be made to the highways infrastructure, traffic flows and public transport including improving junctions along Hatfield Road, increasing the subsidies for a bus service to encourage the use of public transport, introducing measures to encourage cycling and making sure the right number of car-parking spaces was in place.

A spokesperson for William Verry said that work on the scheme was due to start sometime after June and the phased development would take up to three years to complete.

The project will total more than 29,000 square metres of internal space and feature three wings of two-storeys each spreading out from the three-storey hub.

Blob/Pending the construction of the new college a surge in demand for building courses has forced the college to look for temporary accommodation to house its students.

The college has applied for planning permission to change the use of an empty warehouse across the road from its Smallford campus in Hatfield Road.

The 4,000 square foot hangar - formerly used by BT - would provide work space for would-be carpenters, plumbers and plasterers.

Mr Dawe said: "We are in desperate need of more space. We have around 900 students on our construction course and we actually had to close enrolment early on the plastering course."

He added that they also needed space for their motor vehicle courses and to provide a new catering and hospitality course.

An East of England Development Agency grant of £1million will be used to fit out the space if the application for change of use is granted.

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