Councillor blasts college site sale

Coun Paul Jones
Coun Paul Jones

Amber Valley Borough Council leader Paul Jones has expressed his disappointment at Derby College’s decision to sell its site in Heanor.

The News’ revealed last week that the derelict site on Mundy Street was being sold off after owners scrapped plans to turn it into a new education facility.

Councillor Paul Jones said Derby College, which owns the former South East Derbyshire site, should have explored other options more thoroughly before putting the site on the market.

He said: “Both the borough and town council could have offered financial support via a grant or soft loan and we are disappointed that it has not been considered.

“The loss of the studio school was a bitter blow for the town and the announcement that the college is pulling out of the town is deeply disappointing.

“It is also regrettable that the college’s property consultant did not seek the council’s views on the future of the site before the announcement was made.

“The council has worked with the college in the past and we would like to continue our relationship, ensuring that the site is developed in a way that will benefit the residents and businesses of Heanor and protects the former grammar school, which is a grade two-listed building.”

He continued: “The borough council considers the location a strategic site in regards to the regeneration of the town. Not only that, but as an ex-pupil of the grammar school I have a great affinity with the site and feel very dearly towards it.

“As a council, we would have really appreciated discussions with the college beforehand as this does not seem to be a positive way forward for the town centre.

“We would like to see a strategic plan for the site that isn’t housing based. The site would have done well as an educational facility benefiting Heanor residents and those from surrounding areas.”

Derby College chief executive Mandie Stravino said in response: “Representatives from both the college and our property agents have been in discussions with the council planning and regeneration departments for more than 18 months regarding the future of Mundy Street.

“We have made every effort to keep the council informed of progress, including our plans to put the site on the market, as soon as this decision was made.

“We are committed to continuing this positive relationship.

“We agree with the leader’s comments that the site needs to be developed for the good of the town and in a manner sympathetic with the building’s listed status.”

Derby College pulled out of plans to turn the derelict building into a new £4.5 million digital studio college last September over concerns about student numbers.

Now, after months of uncertainly the site has finally been put up for sale.

A spokesman said the college is now working alongside commercial property agents Rigby & Co to market the building to potential developers with a deadline for bids set at early March.

What would you like to see happen to the site? Email us at news@rhnews.co.uk.