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Plans to build new £100m college campus in Wembley

A new college campus is to be built in North London to replace two existing sites that have been deemed ‘no longer fit for purpose and inefficient’. Estimated to cost up to £100m, the eight-storey further education facility will provide space for specialist departments, teaching rooms and communal areas.

Brent Council has approved plans proposed by United Colleges Group (UCG), formed in 2017 following the merger of City of Westminster College and the College of North West London (CNWL), to replace the ‘poor teaching and learning environments’ at the current Wembley and Willesden sites with a brand new campus on Olympic Way, in Wembley.

Buildings on both existing campuses are said to be ‘nearing, or at the end of, their useful lives’ making it ‘significantly challenging’ to deliver an effective curriculum, with the Willesden site described as ‘in particularly poor condition’. It is hoped the new campus will provide students with ‘modern, flexible, and fully fit for purpose’ facilities, with the planning application suggesting the costs could range from £2m at the lower end, right up to a whopping £100m.

Plans to build new £100m college campus in Wembley Harrow Online
Existing Wembley Campus. The existing Wembley site is said to \’no longer be fit for purpose\’. Image Credit: WilkinsonEyre. Permission to use with all LDRS partners

The campus will replace the existing Olympic Office Centre, following demolition. UCG claims the new site will have a positive impact on ‘learning, learner outcomes, and learner satisfaction’ through the development of an ‘inspired learning environment’.

The single site will provide learning facilities for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), as well as practical qualifications in digital technology and communications, and green technologies. It will also contain a specialist unit to deliver integrated Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision.

Specialist facilities include a film and TV studio, a teaching kitchen, personal care rooms, and horticultural garden room. It will also provide a canteen, dining area, open study spaces, and a student support room.

Unlike other educational facilities, the site will have no more than 60 per cent of the desks occupied by students at any one time – with the actual expected occupancy expected to be closer to 40 per cent. Vehicle access will also be limited to deliveries, with no on-site parking. Instead there will be 198 cycle spaces provided to encourage more active travel.

Plans were approved by Brent Council last month, with documents indicating that the works are expected to be completed at some stage in 2025.

Plans to build new £100m college campus in Wembley Harrow Online
Existing Willesden Campus. The existing Willesden campus is aid to be in \’particularly poor condition\’. Image Credit: WilkinsonEyre. Permission to use with all LDRS partners

A planning statement submitted by UCG states: “[…] both existing campuses are no longer fit for purpose, inefficient and are unable to fulfil the College’s full potential. Consequently, a decision has been taken to consolidate the College’s educational facilities into one new-build campus on a prestigious site at Olympic Way in Wembley.”

It adds: “Given the quality of the buildings it is significantly challenging to provide a modern curriculum that meets the needs of learners. Therefore, there is a real and urgent need to replace the poor teaching and learning environments currently found at the Wembley and Willesden Campuses with modern, flexible, and fully fit for purpose facilities that learners of all ages now expect and deserve.”