Sunday, 24 June 2018

College to spend sale windfall on buildings

PROCEEDS from the sale of land behind the Henley Youth Centre will be spent on improving

PROCEEDS from the sale of land behind the Henley Youth Centre will be spent on improving buildings at The Henley College.

The sixth-form college stands to make almost half of the £3million sale price of the 0.6 hectares of land, which includes the site of the former centre in Deanfield Avenue.

As reported in last week’s Henley Standard, the Thamesfield Youth Association, which ran the centre before it closed last year, has agreed the deal with care home company B&M Care and will receive a slightly larger share.

B&M Care was chosen from 27 bidders and the sale is expected to be completed on July 31.

Jayne Davis, who took over as principal of the college in January, said the money was likely to be spent on creating more space for student study.

She said: “The piece of land that’s there is not particularly useable for us. As a sixth-form college, there are certain regulations and procedures on the sale of land. The Education Funding Agency stipulates — and we would be doing this anyway — that we use the proceeds to improve the estate. I couldn’t spend it on anything, even if I wanted to.

“One of our major priorities I made when I first started was to get the best facilities, estate and learning environment for students.

“We are more likely to use it to benefit our current buildings. One of the things we are looking at is to increase student space within some of the buildings for student group study. It will mean they can have room to bring their own laptops. This is making the best use of the space we have got — that’s really important.”

Last week, Clive Wilkinson, who chairs Thamesfield Youth Association, said the charity was likely to invest its share of the money and spend the yield — between £30,000 and £40,000 — on youth projects in the town.

Meanwhile, the HOT (Henley-on-Thames) Frog cafe, which is based inside the youth centre building, will close after trading next Friday. A post on its Facebook page reads: “It is a shame, a real loss for our students and other young people who work there. It has been a valuable community base.”

The café is the responsibility of Henley Social Enterprise, a not-for-profit organisation run by staff at the college as a community hub and to give special needs students work experience.

It has two paid staff, three regular volunteers and a pool of about 15 students from the college’s Pathways course. It opened in 2010 and serves 20 to 30 customers a day.

Mrs Davis said: “At the moment we have no plans to relocate it but we will be looking at other avenues so the students on the Pathways scheme can have the same benefits.”

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