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Construction college faces redundancies

Planning problems at main Norfolk training centre could result in 150 job cuts

OFFICIALS at the beleaguered National Construction College fear 150 jobs will be axed if plans to revamp its site in Norfolk are turned down.

The college has already lost one hearing to turn adjacent brownfield land into housing, the proceeds of which NCC chiefs have promised to plough back into the rundown site at Bircham New ton.

NCC director David Boyden said it hoped to net £15 million from the sale and admitted the cash was vital to bring current dilapidated facilit ies up to scratch.

He said: 'Changing requirements and the gradual deterioration in buildings and infrastructure mean that we are facing the closure of our gym, swimming pool and half the residential accommodation as it is uneconomical to spend any further money on maintenance.

'This would result in the immediate loss of 40 jobs and up to 150 in the longer term, as well as many local contracts and the local usage of our facilities.' Mr Boyden said the NCC had investigated alternative sources of funding but admitted: 'Unfortunately no other funding is readily available to the college for these essential works.' Planners at King's Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council, who first turned down the application in January 2005, will hear the NCC's appeal on May 9.

The organisation is hoping money raised from the sale of the land will allow it to build accommodation for 250 students, plus a leisure centre, entrance and reception centre, as well as provide additional car parking.

Mr Boyden is also urging the industry to write to local Tory MP Henry Bellingham, a former shadow construction minister. Mr Bellingham was unavailable for comment.

The college's planning woes cap a bad few weeks for construction's biggest training provider, which in February failed a routine inspection of its courses.

City & Guilds imposed a ban on the NCC's five campuses but the ban was relaxed earlier this month.