Friday 12 July 2024
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College plans for former Nottinghamshire Debenhams store

West Nottinghamshire College has announced plans for a major expansion which would see ten classrooms created in Mansfield’s former Debenhams store.

All the college’s adult learners would be taught in the large vacant shop in the Four Seasons shopping centre.

Almost 130 college staff will also be relocated from the Derby Road campus to make room for a steady increase in younger students.

Debenhams closed in May 2021 after nearly half a century in the town, when the nationwide chain collapsed following the pandemic.

The shopping centre has welcomed the application, which it says would provide a significant boost for town centre footfall.

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The plans have been submitted to Mansfield District Council.

The ground floor of the Debenhams will be converted into ten classrooms under the planning application, focusing on English, Maths and English as a second language for adults.

There would also be meeting rooms, a reception and offices.

The first floor would be used as space for 130 current college staff, including finance, HR and special educational needs and disabilities.

If approved, it is hoped support staff will relocate to the store between July and August, with students arriving in September.

The space could also be used for additional courses, activities and community engagement events on Saturdays.

Gavin Peake, director of IT, estates and learning resources at West Nottinghamshire College said:

“We are seeing a very substantial year-on-year increase in student numbers, particularly those aged 16-18, and expect this to continue until at least 2028. As such, we require more teaching space at our main campus, which will involve turning offices into classrooms.

“Occupation will be on an initial three-and-a-half-year lease and will replace our existing smaller site for adult and community provision, which has operated very successfully out of two former, empty retail units in the Four Seasons since last September.

“This is a really exciting development for the college and for Mansfield town centre. It will breathe new life into an empty, large-scale retail space, bring increased footfall, and provide a major presence for adult education in the town centre.

“The Four Seasons is a fantastic location for the public to drop-in and learn about the courses available to them and for the college to reach a new market that perhaps isn’t aware of everything we offer.

“It also enables us to consolidate a number of our adult courses together on one site.”

Rebekah O’Neill, centre manager of the Four Seasons Shopping Centre, said: “Creating an innovative and accessible space for the local community to learn and upskill right in the centre of our town is an amazing project to be part of.

“We are particularly excited with some of the great ideas the college team have to engage with shoppers and the wider community moving forward.

“We’ve had some great feedback from our customers since the college opened their spaces in the centre last year, and the additional footfall from the college staff and learners based at the centre following this move will also provide a welcome boost to centre retailers and the town’s high street.”

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