Fantastic turnout as Tod College sets out plans
Wednesday, 11 October 2017
- Community shows support at open day
- TLC can achieve target income
- 30 key tenants want to be part of it
Upper Valley residents, businesses and community groups came out in force on Sunday to help save the town’s college.
College or carpark?
Lancaster University provided the funds for Todmorden Learning Centre & Community Hub (TLC) to rent the Burnley Road building for a day as part of TLC’s campaign to convince Calderdale Council it can make the college financially viable. The council is considering demolishing the building to make way for a car park for Aldi.
Treasurer Robin Asby said TLC’s business plan was taking shape. “Calderdale has given us an opportunity,” he said. "They say if we present a great business proposal and show a community need, we can have the college transferred to Todmorden as an asset of community value." He said 30 key tenants wanted to use the building, which meant TLC could achieve annual rental income "substantially above the running costs of the building”.
Plans on show
Architect Rick Storah’s outline plans for the site were on show and Barbara Jones of the School of Natural Building led a tour of the site to show how natural building techniques could improve it.
Exhibitors included Healthy Minds, which wants to keep its base at the college, Todmorden Harriers, which wants to use the gym, Project Colt, which plans a recycled furniture workshop, ELM Academy for apprenticeships in hairdressing, the School of Natural Building, Arty Pants craft collective and the Federation of Small Businesses Calderdale.
New partners also arrived. Due to high demand in Todmorden, Disability Support Calderdale wants a permanent base at the college and to expand its service from two hours a fortnight to between three and five days a week.
Deborah Corbyn of Healthy Minds said, "I've never seen the college so busy, it's wonderful. It's normally a ghost town. It's fantastic to see so many people using the building.”
Representatives from Leeds, Durham and Lancaster Universities, the School of Natural Building and Incredible Farm joined Todmorden Mayor Christine Potter and Mary Loney, who ran an art college at the site, to discuss TLC’s education options. They discussed setting up a field studies centre with connections to community groups and Incredible Farm, Incredible AquaGarden, Todmorden’s public beds and parks and individual farms, smallholdings and gardens. The N8 group of northern universities has set £24,000 aside to kick start the project as part of its Agrifood Programme.
Education and apprenticeships
There was also interest in providing basic education, adult education, training and apprenticeships and reinstating Tordmorden Art College. Accommodation for residential students could be provided on-site.
Food and music
There was food from Three Valley Vegans, music from Celtic Vibes and a collaborative art activity led by former Tod College art teacher Shelley Burgoyne. Lambert Print and Design of Hebden Bridge provided the welcome banner.
TLC is also pursuing grant funding. Initial soundings from Sports England for up to £150,000 to bring the hall and gym back into use were “encouraging”. Todmorden Harriers, Todmorden Karate Club and Walking Netball, which is aimed at older or less mobile women, would use the facilities, as would local netball, badminton and five-a-side football teams.
Christine Potter gave her personal view: "Saving the college is financially viable," she said. "There will be funding for training and apprenticeships. There will be income from lets. We should reinstate the IT suite. Older people need that. There will be funding for that. A lot of people in this town would use the building.
"The council exaggerated the state of the building. It needs TLC and updating, which can be done over a period of years, but it isn’t in a poor state of repair. If we could get through the first two or three years we can do it."
The open day was followed by TLC’s fundraising auction at the Golden Lion, Todmorden, which raised more than £1,500. Supporters can donate at TLC’s gofundme page, or join TLC as a member for £10.
Aldi has planning permission for a small store next to Tod College, but it proposes a bigger store with a car park on the college site. In January, Todmorden Development Board recommended Aldi’s proposal. In April the council’s acting director of economy and environment, Mark Thompson, echoed this recommendation in a report to cabinet. Mr Thompson’s own figures show selling to Aldi will cost the council around £1.3m.
TLC says approving Aldi’s plans would leave Todmorden without post-16 education, put a major public asset in the hands of the private sector and require massive council funding.
Calderdale Council will consider both TLC’s and Aldi’s plans in November.
More info: www.socit.org.uk
HebWeb News: Save Todmorden College: public meeting in Hebden Bridge (11 Sept 2017)