Transforming The Public into a sixth-form centre will cost around £5.5 million, college bosses have revealed.
And in draft plans seen exclusively by the Express & Star, Sandwell College chiefs have unveiled how the revamp will take shape to turn the West Bromwich arts centre into a sixth-form for 500 A-level students.
The college and Sandwell Council are set to sign a deal to transform the site in a project that will also include arts space and a business support facility.
The proposals would see the two bodies enter into a 25-year partnership. The plans are due to be approved by the borough’s cabinet of senior councillors on Wednesday.
Scott Upton, vice-principal of Sandwell College, revealed that architects have drawn up initial plans for the changes with the conversion costs estimated to be in the region of £5.5m. The college is looking at options of how it will fund the changes, with college income, borrowing and Government grants all options being considered.
Mr Upton also said the existing shape of the building would remain the same, with no major structural changes due to take place.
He added: “We are not looking to destroy the building and its current form because that is one of the things that makes it look attractive.”
Early proposals for the ground floor will see the installation of classroom ‘pods’, which will be free-standing rooms that can be installed without taking down walls. The cafe area will also remain.
It is also proposed to use the existing ‘pods’ on the fourth floor for informal learning areas. The plans also include using some of the building for arts-based activities, which would be open to the public.
In 2011 the Arts Council was accused of funding a building that was ‘not fit for purpose’ in a damning report into the organisation’s role in building the centre. The New Street centre will close next month and will open as a sixth form in September 2014.