Huge plans to completely redevelop one of Cornwall College's main sites in the Duchy have been lodged.

The development, if approved, will see the demolition of the college’s main John Keay House – the former headquarters of English China Clay – and the construction of two new specialist buildings.

The project consists of the demolition of several existing college buildings on Tregonissey Road, St Austell, and the construction of new educational buildings, along with some alterations to the existing site including the creation of new parking, landscaping and associated infrastructure to replace the demolished buildings.

Two new buildings are proposed to replace the existing John Keay House, which was built in the mid-1960s. A further demolition of the college’s Art & Design Building is planned as it is suggested that it’s reached the end of its usable life.


How the new Building 02 would look

How the new Building 02 would look

In addition to the replacement buildings, the project would provide improvements to external social spaces, accessibility and safety. Site-wide biodiversity and ecology would also be improved, according to the proposal.

Because the project involves the replacement of existing buildings, some of which are located on the footprint of demolished blocks, the project would have to be split into separate construction phases. The key phase would be the early replacement of the single storey element of John Keay House adjacent to the Keay Theatre, which is remaining.

New buildings planned

The proposed new Building 01 would house the college’s new reception and main entrance leading into specialist areas for the teaching of hospitality, catering, hair and beauty, all designed to improve community access and opportunities for students to gain experience through practical experience.

A new refectory and social space would feature in this block which would be situated in a central campus location.

This main block would also provide dedicated learning zones for business, sports and the creative arts as well as being home to the college’s Learning Resource Centre (LRC). This building would replace facilities found in the John Keay House and Art & Design buildings and would be located in place of the John Keay House single-storey element.

The proposed new Building 02 is located on the higher terrace in place of an existing external dining area and car park. It would ensure that the Foundation Department has its own separate college environment with its own entrance. Also located here would be higher education teaching accommodation as well as teaching spaces associated with the adjacent Trowel Trades and Skills Centre buildings.


Building 01 would largely replace John Keay House

Building 01 would largely replace John Keay House


Both Buildings 01 and 02 would have to be completed prior to the demolition of John Keay House allowing the college to continue operating day in day out. They would both be three storeys high and would generally be in line with the height of the existing John Keay House, though overall there would be a large reduction in building area. The two new buildings would represent just over half of the size of John Keay House.

The project forms part of the wider Further Education Capital Transformation (FECT) programme funded by the Department for Education (DfE) to improve the condition of the existing college estate across the UK. Cornwall College is one of 16 colleges which have been targeted within Phase 2 of the programme where the condition of buildings is most critical.

What the college says

A planning statement says: “The project is a fundamental part of the Cornwall College estates development plan to deliver a 21st century learner experience.

"Whilst the college has had some investment in recent years in specific curriculum areas, this has been piecemeal and there has not been the opportunity to make a transformational change for all learners. The DfE funding to replace outdated and unsuitable accommodation will help to achieve this, creating an environment that inspires learners and makes them proud to be part of the college.”

READ MORE: College buildings would be demolished for 'first in the country' new campus

The design proposal has been developed by a team appointed and managed by BAM Construction. BAM was selected by the college and the DfE through a competitive tender process.

Retained buildings would play a key part in the “future masterplan”. The Keay Theatre, which is integral to the college’s drama and music curriculum, would remain in full and see a new entrance following the demolition of John Keay House.

The Skills Centre, which was opened in 2007 and houses the college’s engineering department, is seeking to develop its teaching of new sustainable subjects such as photovoltaics, solar thermal and electric vehicle engineering and maintenance. Trowel Trades was similarly opened in 2007 and offers a space in which vocational construction skills are taught.


How the new Cornwall College St Austell campus would look

How the new Cornwall College St Austell campus would look

The college currently has just over 2,000 students on classroom-based programmes, of which just over 461 are 16 to 18 years old and 371 adults. There are over 135 apprentices. Additionally, the number of Higher Education (HE) students at Cornwall College continues to grow with a curriculum well aligned to local need and industry priorities. It is the college’s ambition to have 500 HE learners studying on programmes by 2025.

Both Building 01 and Building 02 would have green roofs with solar panels. This would offer safe environments for photovoltaic electrical generation while increasing biodiversity and controlling drainage run-off speeds. The existing roofs of the Keay Theatre will also be utilised for this purpose.

The planned demolition of the Art & Design building would make way for a terrace seeded with a durable grass seed mix, boundary planted with a mix of ornamental and native shrub planting and the addition of a single species hedgerow for screening and used as the location for a solar panel garden.

The plans are awaiting a decision by Cornwall Council’s planning department or via committee.