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Council chiefs are backing Sandwell sixth form college expansion plans

Plans to build extra classrooms behind a multi-million-pound college campus have been backed by council chiefs.

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Central Sixth Michael's Sixth Form College

If the scheme goes ahead 10 new classrooms would be constructed behind the former Public art gallery in West Bromwich High Street, which is now occupied by Central St Michael’s Sandwell Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Centre.

The extra classrooms would provide space for 250 students. Subjects on offer include advanced courses in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) operated by Sandwell College. More than 200 students have enrolled since its opening last September.

Funded by Sandwell College, the Towns Fund and the Department for Education to the tune of £5m the STEM college is also known as Central St Michael's Sixth Form.

The proposed development is for land in High Street once earmarked for a nine-storey block with 66 flats, with Sandwell Council’s planners giving their blessing to the planning application, but the work never took off. A few years later the council approved plans to build 43 flats on the land before the campus scheme was backed.

The land

Shaftesbury House was eventually demolished after the council said the former offices which had housed its education department, were ‘surplus to requirements’ and ‘unsuitable’ to be refurbished.

Black Country Housing Group was given permission by the council to build 43 flats on the site in 2021.

The social housing provider also bought the land that housed the crumbling former gas showroom on the corner of Lombard Street West and West Bromwich High Street, next to the town’s library. This was demolished in 2017 with parts of the building, which had been a fixture of West Bromwich High Street for more than 75 years but later described as a ‘blight’ after years of neglect, relocated to the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley.

Sandwell Council said it accepted a lower offer of £270,000 to have complete control over tenancies for all 27 homes planned for the land. A higher offer of £427,000 for the land was rejected as it would have only offered nomination rights for six properties.

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