'Ugly' Burslem college to get £1m facelift
A £1 million facelift is set to rid a college of its tag as Staffordshire's ugliest seat of learning.
The cash will be used to demolish the worst eyesores at Stoke-on-Trent College's Burslem campus – and replace them with a pleasing blue and grey clad facade more in keeping with the 21st century.
Then behind it, work will begin upgrading and refurbishing many of the lecture theatres, classrooms and other departments ready for the venue to begin a new era as one of the city's new so-called 'studio schools' next autumn.
And last night the plans were given the thumbs-up by the college's neighbours.
The residents had been invited to an unveiling of the drawings and artist's impressions of the new structure as part of a public consultation before planning approval is sought from the city council next week.
They told how they were optimistic that the project would stop the Burslem college being the poor relation of further education in the Potteries.
Jacqui Hall, in her 60s, who has lived across the road from the Moorland Road campus for 40 years, said: "These plans really do look much better than the dump it has become.
"It badly needed improving as it had fallen so far behind places like Newcastle and Cauldon colleges.
"I worked in the kitchens there for 20 years and we want it to be a thriving hub teeming with students again – not a place where youngsters don't want to enrol."
Sandra Fern, who has lived in Moorland Road for 42 years, said: "It looks impressive and has a wow factor, which will bring students in.
"The design of the place is so old-fashioned and this change will transform it."
Husband Bill added: "I came along because I was worried it would start to encroach on the main road but that is not the case and it looks a good plan that will make a big difference to the place.
"This generation has not had the advantages of others so at least they deserve a decent place to study like this." All the work will take place in the existing four-storey building with demolition of part of it scheduled for January and February.
It will be completed in September ready for the opening of the new 'studio school' where hundreds of budding engineers aged from 14 to 19 will be trained up to help meet a shortage of skilled workers across North Staffordshire.
Yvonne Kelly, director of the Burslem campus, said: "The changes will improve the exterior of the building's A block and look a great deal better for visitors as well as those people driving and walking past.
"There will also be significant improvements to the landscaping on site as well and provide a more welcoming feel to the college."
Simon Ford, from EllisWilliams Architects, said: "The current building dates back to the 1950s and we are upgrading the frontage so from the point of view of residents along Moorland Road it will look like a new building.
"A lot of rooms are vacant because they are so poorly insulated, heated and lit. Parts of the building are eyesores. But this will change all that."