The £60 million transformation of a Harrow college campus, including sports hall, dining room and laboratories, is to go ahead after plans were given the green light.
The ‘terrible facilities’ at Stanmore College will be redeveloped after receiving funding from the Department for Education (DfE).
Stanmore is one of 17 further education colleges that were selected as part of the DfE’s Capital Transformation Fund programme. Several of the current buildings date back to the 1960’s and are said to be “no longer fit for purpose” to deliver the curriculum, with the college being judged as having “one of the poorest campuses in the UK”.
Plans for the phased demolition of six of the nine existing buildings on the site and construction of five new interconnected blocks were approved unanimously at a recent meeting of Harrow Council’s planning committee (January 4). The scheme aims to improve teaching facilities at the college.
Stanmore College was rated as ‘good’ by the education watchdog Ofsted following an inspection last year, which the chair of the planning committee, Cllr Marilyn Ashton, called a “very good accreditation” considering the state of the campus.
Cllr Ashton said: “I think that’s a fantastic achievement because the facilities there are terrible really. They make the best of it but it’s got porta-cabins, it’s badly designed. […] It’s very important that we serve our young people well.”
The new campus would contain teaching and study areas, laboratories, dining and assembly halls, a sports hall, a new special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) teaching space, a café, and the creation of a secured central courtyard.
The college in Elm Park currently provides further education courses to around 2,731 young people and adults. The new facilities could see the number of pupils rise to 3,530, comprising roughly 1,840 16-18 year old students and 1,690 19+ students.
Residents had raised concerns about traffic and parking issues around the school, anti-social behaviour, as well as overflowing bins attracting rats, and are worried that increasing the number of students at the site will “compound the problem”.
However, Cllr Ashton suggested many of the issues are caused by the site’s inadequate facilities resulting in pupils leaving the premises and spilling out into the surrounding area outside of lesson times. She added: “The students are not encouraged to want to stay there during their break time […] because there’s nothing to attract them to want to stay.”
Cllr Zak Wagman said: “If we were to say no to this today, the college stays as it is so nothing changes in terms of the anti-social behaviour that a lot of residents, quite understandably, get in touch about.”
To minimise some of the issues associated with increasing the number of students on the site, a condition of approval is that start and finish times will be staggered. No more than 900 pupils will be able to arrive for a 9am start, with the number of students on site at any one time to be capped at 1,400.
The developers have also agreed to a £10k Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) investigation, with a £30k contribution to any required improvements, as well as a further £35k towards bus stop improvements on Old Church Lane. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2027/28.