At a full Council meeting last night (30 November), councillors overwhelmingly supported a notice of motion to respect the covenant in place on Malvern Hills College.
When the college was sold in 2008, the Council recognised its value to residents and put a covenant in place which requires the site be used only for educational purposes until there is no longer a functional need for the college.
This determination regarding the need for a college can only be made by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), a Government body independent of both the Council and Warwickshire College Group (the current owner of the site).
Earlier this year, the ESFA, at the request of Warwickshire College Group, did determine there was no longer a functional need for the College.
However, this decision did not consider the range of adult courses offered by the college which have provided enrichment and lifelong learning for the community. Instead, the determination focussed solely on the 16-19 provision.
The Council decided this determination was too narrow and consequently consider the covenant to remain enforceable.
Cllr Sarah Rouse, Leader of Malvern Hills District Council, said: “It would be a tremendous loss to the community if the college’s closure was to become permanent. The Council remains steadfast in its commitment to protecting the college, in so far as the covenant allows, and will continue in its efforts to secure the college’s future. With growing demand, the current offering needs to be significantly improved. Allowing Malvern Hills College to be sold for alternative uses would be a missed opportunity and potentially very damaging to our residents, the future of our young people and our local economy”.