Former college building sold for £2m

A FORMER college building in Colchester has been sold for nearly £2 million.

A FORMER college building in Colchester has been sold for nearly £2 million.

Essex County Council has agreed to sell the Grey Friars building to OMC Investments, which is planning to convert the 18th century building into a boutique hotel. The rear of the site is to be redeveloped for housing.

The Grade II-listed building, in the High Street, was previously an adult education centre which was controversially closed by the council after it was deemed unfit for modern educational requirements.

The college catered for thousands of adult learners over its 30-year life span and the closure was seen by some as a result of the Government's shift of focus to teenage learners.


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The decision caused uproar from students and local people who claimed they had not been properly consulted over the closure of such an iconic institution.

This led to a campaign that fought to keep the college open which was supported by local MPs and education professionals.

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Bob Russell, MP for Colchester, said: “This is all in the past. I think the county council were wrong to shut down the college. But we've got to move on.

“I think we need to know exactly what is being proposed before we jump to conclusions.”

Grey Friars is the second major Colchester property to be sold by the county council in the past few weeks.

Nearby East Hill House, also in Colchester High Street, was previously used by social services and has been sold to Scott Properties for £500,000. The Grade I listed building is also expected to be converted into a hotel and restaurant.

Peter Martin, deputy leader of Essex County Council, said: “Our objective has been to get maximum value for taxpayers of Essex out of our surplus asset, while also looking to re-invest the proceeds in frontline services and community users.

“I am delighted that we have secured this, especially during these tough economic times.”

He added: “And, of course, we will see a fine historic building preserved and restored.”

Negotiations are under way to sell more of Essex County Council's real estate in the town with the education office in Park Road and the Colchester Archaeological Trust's base of operations in Lexden Road both up for sale.

The sale of Grey Friars is due to be completed next Friday.

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