The controversial plan to build a new supermarket in Ilkeston would more than triple the current number of students in the town, say college bosses.
Currently at 250 students and falling every year, plans to relocate Derby College from its tired Field Road base to a new state-of-the-art campus in the town centre would ‘revitalise’ education in Ilkeston, according to college corporate director Nigel Gell.
The new campus, on the site of the former magistrates’ court, is expected to attract 800 students and 200 staff, who will all spend cash in the town centre, he said.
But without the green light from councillors later this month to build a Morrison’s superstore on the Field Road campus, along with 39 houses, the college will not receive the £10.3m needed to make the new campus a reality.
“We are quite concerned that there are not millions of students around the college at the minute,” he said.
“Student numbers are dropping off but it isn’t a surprise they are going elsewhere, when you see the facilities available at places like the Roundhouse in Derby and Bilborough College.
“As a college we want to revitalise further education in Ilkeston.”
He said the current campus, built in the 1950s or 1960s, was ‘not fit for purpose’ but that the magistrates court campus will have classrooms flexible enough to change with the times and offer different courses as they become more popular or as local need increases.
Paul Morris, director of developers St James Securities, said that a new supermarket would be built in Ilkeston ‘sooner or later’ but that the town was now getting a secure future for education thrown into the bargain.
He said Ilkeston largest supermarket Tesco, in Rutland Street, ‘substantially over-trades’, meaning Ilkeston is a very attractive place for a rival supermarket to set up shop.
“At some point another supermarket will come to Ilkeston,” added Mr Gell.
“But if it isn’t at Field Road, you will not get 800 students and 200 staff shopping in the town centre.
“You are getting a £10m state-of-the-art college and you are also getting a regenerative effect on the town.”
Councillors are set to vote on the plan at Erewash Borough Council’s next planning meeting on Wednesday October 17.
Visit the Derby College shop in Market Place on Saturday from 10am to 4pm to see the plans.