THE prospect of flats being built in place of the former Feltham People's Centre has emerged after plans to locate a skills centre there hit the buffers.
West Thames College obtained planning permission to bulldoze the Feltham High Street building and replace it with a skills centre but the Government pulled out of funding the £19m project, leaving the plans in tatters.
The college is looking for private sector funding to redevelop the Hounslow Council-owned site but council deputy leader Mark Bowen raised the prospect that housebuilders might now attempt to move in and build flats there instead.
"We have an issue that we now have a site that's going to be unused," he said. "I really, really hope that site is never used for more flats but it's not a promise it's a personal view."
The former People's Centre, which was originally the Feltham Hotel, has been derelict since the Feltham Community Association (FCA) was evicted in February 2008. The FCA ran a charity shop from the building as well as running community groups and holding charity events.
Secretary of the former FCA, Dave Howell, would be furious if the charity's former home is replaced by flats.
He said: "I would be very very unhappy. The property development in this area is beyond the bounds it should be. What's needed in the community is something that's supportive to the community and it's time for local government to consider the people who already live here."
West Thames College was planning to relocate its Feltham skills centre from its current site in Boundaries Road by September 2011. Work was due to begin next month but now the college is desperately looking to plug the gap through private sector sponsorship – which is proving difficult in the current financial crisis.
The council has yet to hold formal discussions on what its options for the site are but bosses are bound to be tempted to cash in on an asset whose value has been estimated at about £5m.