THE CONTROVERSIAL £19m Feltham Skills Centre has hit the buffers after the Government pulled out of funding the project.
Opponents are rejoicing after the Learning and Skills Centre (LSC) announced it would not back the plans to relocate the skills centre in Feltham High Street – a decision described by principal Marjorie Semple as 'very disappointing'.
The West Thames College proposal to build a new skills centre in place of the Feltham Community Association building in the High Street was given planning permission in May despite vociferous opposition from neighbours concerned about traffic, parking and the overbearing size of the planned development.
But the project was reliant on receiving a grant from the LSC quango – which has had its funding slashed in light of the financial crisis – and that money was not forthcoming.
Anne Hastie, who lives in neighbouring New Chapel Square and has led the campaign against the development, said: “We are absolutely cock-a-hoop. We were so disappointed it was passed by the council and they seemed to be very confident about the funding.
“It was a ridiculous plan and we are delighted it's not going ahead.”
The buildings currently housing the skills centre at the former De Brome school in Boundaries Road have been described by West Thames principal Marjorie Semple as 'not fit for purpose'.
She said the centre would remain there until 2011 and added that the college would now be pursuing alternative plans. She refused to elaborate on what those plans are.
Feltham councillor Mark Bowen, who has backed the project from the start, said: “It's extremely disappointing news. Clearly this is bad news for anyone who believes in skills training in Feltham.”
West Thames has already spent £1m on the project but could recoup some or all of that money from the LSC. However, they will not have the opportunity to bid for new funding until the next spending review in 2011/12.