This marks an important stage in the work to get the Harlands Road site brought back into educational use.
Led by Sir Nicholas Soames MP; West Sussex County Council, Mid Sussex District Council, the Local Enterprise Partnership (Coast to Capital LEP) and the University of Sussex have been working together to make the case to Government that the site should be brought back into use and a sixth form should be created.
Anne Milton MP, the Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships has agreed that there is a need for a sixth form in Haywards Heath and that, to meet this gap, Government will look into bringing the Harlands Road site back into educational use.
“This is a really important step forward” said Sir Nicholas. “As more houses are built and the District grows, it is essential that there is a good quality sixth form for young people. It is terrible to see the Harlands Road site sitting empty and young people having to travel long distances to get to colleges outside the District.”
"I am so pleased that the Minister has accepted the case we have made. This is an excellent example of local organisations coming together to make a compelling case. The two councils, the LEP and the University of Sussex have worked very hard on behalf of local communities.”
The competitive process will be led by the Further Education Commissioners. It will aim to identify a high quality, local provider with an excellent track record.
“The District Council has been determined to get the Harlands Road site back into educational use,” said Councillor Garry Wall, Leader of Mid Sussex District Council. “We have greatly valued the leadership of Sir Nicholas and strong partnership work with the other bodies. There is still a long way to go but this is a significant development.”
Councillor Richard Burrett, Deputy Leader of West Sussex County Council and Cabinet Member for Education and Skills said: “We have been working with partners to understand the need for post-16 provision in Mid Sussex and to look at what options could be explored. We are keen to be a partner in, and facilitator of, any project that may emerge as part of this work.”
Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive of Coast to Capital said: “Businesses are growing strongly in Mid Sussex and all around the Gatwick area. We need to ensure that high quality education is provided in the local area so that young people are able to access good local jobs when they leave education.”
Professor Adam Tickell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sussex, said: “I am delighted that the Government supports the plans for a sixth form in Haywards Heath. Experts from the University will be supporting the plans and will work with our partners to ensure that the sixth form will provide a high quality education for local students.”