'Substantial progress' made in Haywards Heath College meeting

The former Central Sussex College campus, in Haywards Heath
The former Central Sussex College campus, in Haywards Heath

Sir Nicholas Soames MP said he believed "substantial progress" had been made in the quest to re-establish post-16 education in Haywards Heath.

The Haywards Heath campus of the former Central Sussex College closed last July when the college was overwhelmed with £25m of debts.

Sir Nicholas Soames MP

Sir Nicholas Soames MP

The site, in Harlands Road, was purchased by the government in August for an undisclosed sum, "with a view to it being used for educational purposes in future".

On Monday (June 4), the Mid Sussex MP met with Anne Milton MP, minister of state at the Department for Education, to discuss the future of the site.

Sir Nicholas was joined by Kathryn Hall, chief executive of Mid Sussex District Council; Jonathan Sharrock, chief executive of the Coast to Capital LEP; Professor Adam Tickell, vice-chancellor of Sussex University; and Deborah Myers, director of education and skills at West Sussex County Council.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: "I am very grateful to the minister and her officials for the time that they gave us this morning to go through the detailed business case to re-establish post-16 provision in Haywards Heath."

He added: "I believe substantial progress has been made.

"The department is clear about our objectives for the Haywards Heath Sixth Form College and made several excellent suggestions to fortify our case.

"The minister has suggested that the next meeting should take place with officials before the end of this month at which further details will be developed and discussed."

Sir Nicholas stressed that the plan was by no means a done deal, adding that the Mid Sussex team would be looking to local businesses for support, particularly when it came to vocational training and work yet to be done with the Treasury.

A spokesman said it was likely that an appeal would have to be made to the chief secretary to the Treasury, Elizabeth Truss MP, to secure the funding required for the project.

Sir Nicholas added: "This was a good workmanlike and positive meeting.

"A very productive discussion and a clear programme for further steps.

"I shall report back as soon as we have something further to say."