Two college campuses could be used for housing – as plans to consolidate them in a single new campus could be completed within two years.
Buckinghamshire College Group said under plans to bring its Amersham and Flackwell Heath sites to a new campus in High Wycombe town centre, the use of both for residential purposes is being considered to fund the project.
The Bucks Free Press first reported the move in March last year when Bucks Council agreed to dispose the freeholds of Collins House on Desborough Road, and 30-34 Oxford Road, which are both vacant – the latter of which Buckinghamshire College Group offered to buy.
At the time, the college group was also believed to be in talks with the authority about a nearby Bridge Street building let as ‘motor workshops and storage’.
It also offered to lease properties on Brook Street belonging to the council for redevelopment as vehicle training workshops, according to a report published at the time.
The college group has since said it started the process after reviewing the Amersham and Flackwell Heath campuses and found demand for college places is “shrinking” in Amersham and Chesham, but “growing quickly” in High Wycombe.
And while plans are still at a “very early stage” and planning permission and Government funding would still need to be sought, the new Wycombe campus could be open as early as Autumn 2024, according to its website.
It added the new campus “is not a foregone conclusion”.
A college spokesman said: “We hope to be able to build a new campus in Wycombe town centre and if we get the go-ahead to do that, and if we can raise the funds required for the development, then the activities currently undertaken at Amersham and Flackwell Heath campuses will move to the new campus.
“There are a number of hurdles to get over before we get to that point – whether we can get planning permission for the new campus, whether we can get enough Government funding to contribute towards the cost of the new campus, and many other things too. So, it is not a foregone conclusion that a new campus will be built, and our plans are still at a very early stage.
“We started this process after reviewing the condition and use of the existing campuses at Amersham and Flackwell Heath. Also, demographic studies have shown that the demand for college places is shrinking in Amersham and Chesham while it is growing quickly in High Wycombe.
“We are looking at all options for the future of the Amersham and Flackwell Heath sites that would provide us with the significant funding we would need to go ahead with the plans for the new Wycombe campus.
"That does include the potential for the sites to be used for housing, subject to all the relevant planning permissions and requirements, and we are in discussions with the planning authority about that.”