PROPOSALS to turn Kingsway High School into a first-rate community learning facility when it closes next year have moved a step closer.
Cheshire County Council's executive has given officers the go-ahead to begin talks with the University of Chester, which wants to buy the 16-acre site. An independent valuation will be arranged.
Councillors were told the site would become one of three new Learning In the Community (LINC) centres in Cheshire, with plans for others at Winsford and Warrington.
It would house higher and further education facilities, involving West Cheshire College, adult and community learning, and vocational opportunities for 14-19 year olds.
The site could offer: n A top class running track, all weather pitches and a revamped gym. n A 'state of the art' curriculum in health, professions allied to medicine, sport, including sport for the disabled, and creative and cultural industries - based on a sub-regional skills strategy, and employer and learner demand. nWork-based training opportunities via partnerships with employers such as the NHS with the likes of start-up incubator facilities for students following foundation degrees. nSpecial programmes aimed at pupils identified as 'Gifted or Talented' by their schools, using high standard resources not currently available. n Learning opportunities for students with physical disabilities. n Advice and information for learners.
A report considered by councillors says the LINC would be resourced to the highest standards, creating an 'unmatched' learning environment of such a standard 'that it would be impossible to duplicate in each school or college'.
It said: 'The LINC centre will provide a central resource for all schools and other learning providers to access as part of their standard curriculum.'
Member for the county's Hoole and Newton division, Cllr Molly Hale, said: 'If this happens it would be something very exceptional and wonderful for the local community.
'I'm sure it will take people a long time to recover from the closure of Kingsway High School but this would be a good step in the direction of healing that wound.
'It would give an injection of confidence and energy back into the local community.'
Cllr Hale added that although she supported the idea in principle, the implications of increased traffic would need to be addressed.
She has asked for a study on the impact of extra traffic and for a travel plan if the centre gets planning permission. nKingsway High School will close in July 2006 in the wake of falling rolls and a £200,000 financial deficit, despite a strong campaign to save the school by governors and parents. firstname.lastname@example.org