KENDAL College has submitted proposals to change the use of parts of Westmorland Shopping Centre from commercial to a learning facility.
South Lakeland District Council have not yet made a decision on the plans which would see part of the first and second floor of the shopping centre used to help the oversubscribed college meet capacity.
“The college currently has two campuses at Milnthorpe Road and at Beezon Road in Kendal,” the planning statement said.
“These two existing campuses are currently at capacity with no scope to extend accommodation.
“The College 16-19 student body is oversubscribed leading to pressure on existing accommodation.
“This has been addressed in the past through conversion of non-teaching areas into teaching space and the use of substantial temporary accommodation.
“There is limited capacity to extend the college further through extension or new build programmes, and the college has carried out vast internal restructuring of its accommodation to allow for delivery of curriculum and learner growth to the point where further adaptations are now not feasible.
“The Westmorland Shopping Centre site will serve as a third campus, providing teaching accommodation to over 400 learners.”
The college also believes that taking up space in the shopping centre, which currently has a number of empty units, will provide more much-needed footfall in the area.
“In our view the current high vacancy levels within the Westmorland Centre detract from the Conservation area by adversely impacting upon the town centres sense of “hustle and bustle”,” the statement continued.
“The application proposal will introduce new footfall into the centre which will in our view enhance the area but at worse preserve it.
“Empty shops can cause a ‘negative feedback loop’ which means they discourage investment, decrease the offer of a shopping destination which in turn, prevents customers from visiting and contribute to a general sense of decline.
“Vacant store fronts contribute further to reduced footfall, which adversely affect surrounding businesses.
“The application will contribute in a positive manner to the variety of uses within the area.”
The application goes on to reference how they meet the idea of sustainable development as they are not needing to create any new construction as the floorspace already exists.
They have also said that the central Kendal location means that the site would be highly accessible, and they referenced that the Government has recently recognised the value that education brings to the town centre.
It would also help Kendal College meet their desire to offer an enhanced learning experience for its students and bring more diversity to the way in which floorspace is used to the town centre.