Government buys Haywards Heath college campus for ‘education use’

Central Sussex College's Haywards Heath campus
Central Sussex College's Haywards Heath campus

The government has bought the former Central Sussex College campus in Haywards Heath and plans to use it for education purposes.

There is no news, however, about the precise nature of the plans or when they will come into effect.

We understand there have been concerns about post-16 provision, however there are a number of providers in the area.

Crawley College

The campus, in Harlands Road, was closed at the end of the summer term after the college – now known as Crawley College following its merger with Chichester College – fell into financial difficulty.

Overwhelmed by £25m of debt, the college closed both its Haywards Heath and East Grinstead campuses, shedding a total of 43 jobs.

A spokesman said the decision to sell had been made before the merger and the government bought the campus once it had closed.

The Department for Education (DfE) confirmed the site had been purchased “with a view to it being used for educational purposes in future”.

The campus was unveiled in 2013, having cost £30m to build, but there has been no mention as to how much the government paid to acquire it. Before the DfE stepped in, both the Sussex Learning Trust and The Gielgud Academy had expressed an interest in taking over the campus.

The closure was heavily criticised by parents concerned about the dwindling college provision in the area.

Their concerns were shared by some politicians, with Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames branding the financial problems a “self-inflicted wound by an earlier and very reckless management.”

A college spokesman said: “We understand there have been concerns about post-16 provision, however there are a number of providers in the area. And, of course, students can also consider courses at Crawley College, as well as Chichester or Brinsbury, our land-based campus which is located near Pulborough.

“All three campuses have a wide variety of subjects available across a number of different levels. We are also looking to establish a bus service to make our Brinsbury campus more accessible.” He added: “One week into the merger, we are focused on preparing for our new and returning students and ensuring that they have the best possible learning opportunities through studying with us.”

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