Manchester College Boddingtons LTE p.PNW

The £93m first phase completed last year. Credit: Place North West

Doubts cast over phase two of college’s Manchester campus 

LTE Group, which runs The Manchester College, will make a decision in July on whether or not to proceed with the £36m second phase of its redevelopment of the Boddingtons Brewery site. 

Having completed the £93m first phase of its city centre campus, LTE is waiting for clarity on changes to how colleges are allowed to borrow money before it can pull the trigger on the 113,000 sq ft second building.

LTE has already secured £18m from the DfE’s Post-16 Estates Transformation Fund for the project, which will house business, financial and professional services students. 

The company now needs to borrow the same amount again to fund the scheme. 

However, changes to the classification of further education colleges mean there is a lack of certainty around commercial borrowing at present, which may “present a risk to elements of the wider city strategy”, according to a report prepared by LTE. 

Read the full report

The reclassification of colleges as public sector organisations means any lending going forward must be secured through the government, rather than commercially, according to the report, which will be discussed by Manchester City Council’s economy scrutiny committee on Thursday.

“This reclassification impacts college commercial borrowing…and has led to lengthy delays for the sector as the DfE establishes processes to approve existing and new borrowing facilities for colleges,” the report states. 

The first phase of the redevelopment of the Boddingtons Brewery site, a 290,000 sq ft building, was funded through a DfE grant and a £27.6m loan from Manchester City Council. 

Plans for the second phase, which will act as a replacement for the Shena Simon campus on Chorlton Street, have been worked up to planning application stage.

However, LTE Group “cannot commit beyond the initial design phase to this project until DfE establishes viable options to commercial financing that allow match funding to be used on the project in the same way we have for phase one”, the report states. 

The city centre campus forms part of an estate strategy that aims to consolidate 54 buildings across 19 locations in Manchester, to nine buildings across just five sites. 

To date, several campuses within LTE’s disparate estate have been sold. 

The 6.5-acre Fielden Campus in West Didsbury has been sold to Manchester Islamic Education Trust, while LTE disposed of the 18-acre Northenden Campus to Miller Homes, and its Moston site to housing association One Manchester.  

HBD acquired the education provider’s St John’s Campus on the edge of Spinningfields and plans to develop a £100m office development offering 200,000 sq ft. 

LTE also sold a portion of the Boddingtons site to Clarion Housing Group in 2021, and the housing association’s development arm Latimer plans to build 442 flats across two buildings including a 20-plus storey tower. 

LTE declined to comment.

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Colleges should be made up of smaller campuses around the suburbs, not the city centre as many young people won’t make the journey


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