Wigan and Leigh College reveals its own plans for former UTC

The UTC building
The UTC building

Wigan and Leigh College says that it too is interested in taking over the town’s defunct UTC building.

Last week it was revealed that the University of Bolton had been in early talks with the board of the university technical college - which shut in the summer because of a continued student shortage - about the possibility of turning it into a campus and centre of excellence.

It would capitalise on the state-of-the-art vocational studies equipment left behind - including Britain’s only vertical farm - bring up to 1,500 students to the town, create 50 jobs and boost the local economy.

But it has emerged since that Bolton isn’t the only player in the game. And it won’t be in the gift of the UTC board as to what takes up residence in the former Rushton Mill building on Parson’s Walk either.

The Department for Education has confirmed that it is the arbitrator of what moves in there next, in consultation with Wigan Council.

And after last week’s revelations, Wigan and Leigh College across the road has also revealed that it too would like to put the buildings to good use.

And there is nothing to say that other educational institutions won’t join the fray.

The college itself already runs higher education courses, including engineering, through its links with the University of Central Lancashire.

A statement read: “As a local education provider Wigan and Leigh College will be working through the formal process that will determine the future use of the former UTC building.

“The process is expected to involve the funding agencies and the Department for Education, in consultation with Wigan Council.

“The college is looking forward to submitting its own proposals for the future use of the UTC building with other local partners when the formal process begins.

“It should also be remembered that the college already works with a number of high quality higher education providers as part of our university centre and has a well-established centre of excellence in engineering at our Pagefield campus.”

A DoE spokeswoman said: “The repurposing obligations of the former Wigan UTC is with the Department for Education and not with the former academy provider.”

A Wigan Council spokesperson said: “We are working with the Department for Education as they consider potential future uses of the site. The council will continue to push for a positive local future for the building aimed at supporting education and skills development for our residents.

“Helping our residents gain new skills and providing better employment and training opportunities is a key part of Wigan Council’s new Strategic Framework for Work and Skills.

“This new approach is designed to drive job creation and support residents into work and training.”

Bolton University declined to comment further but last week Deputy Vice-Chancellor Kondal Reddy Kandadi said: “It fits well with the University of Bolton’s academic and institutional strategy and will create a full university presence in Wigan, with integrated links to our core operations in Bolton and our planned new UCoE in Bury.

“The University of Bolton has a successful track record in investing strategically and developing state-of-the-art learning infrastructure based on highly successful partnerships with industry, which can be replicated in Wigan.”