College plan for former Mansfield Brewery site could be taken elsewhere

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THE former managing director of Mansfield’s brewery could take his plan for a first class culinary college elsewhere due to a lack of support for the ambitious proposal.

Ron Kirk has accused authorities of ‘sitting on their hands’ over the Great Central Road site which has been dormant for more than 10 years.

Mr Kirk has spent two years and over £50,000 putting plans together for a ‘game-changing’ £40m development in the town.

As well as an industry-backed culinary college for thousands of students, Mr Kirk wants to create a new brewery with a visitor centre and restaurant.

But Mr Kirk now feels he has taken the idea ‘as far as he can’ and is disappointed things haven’t progressed further in the absence of suitable alternatives.

He has called upon Mansfield District Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, local MPs, the Local Enterprise Partnership, Skills Council and Department of Education to get behind the scheme in a proactive way or the group may take the project elsewhere.

“We have taken this concept as far as me and the team feel we can take it,” he said.

“It’s reached the point now where decisions need to be made as to whether we want to continue with it or go somewhere else with it which would be a shame.

“My frustration is everybody has said what a wonderful idea they think it is but when it comes to making it happen no one wants to make a decision. People are sitting on their hands and we have been left in limbo.

“There’s no inertia, nothing is happening. We expected people to get behind it in a more proactive way.”

Mr Kirk says he has drawn inspiration for the plan from the Johnson and Wales University’s College of Culinary Arts in Carolina, USA.

He added: “If Mansfield really wanted something like this they would move heaven and earth to make it happen.

“If people don’t want it or there is something better on the table, fine. I will walk away.

“We think we have got a great concept which can be a real game changer for Mansfield. It can deliver a totally new image for the town. It’s a great opportunity for the town to re-invent itself.

“It can provide a platform for re-generation and give young people a better start to their lives and careers.

“It needs some public finance, once it gets that then the private sector will follow. There needs to be a joining of hands with all the relevant organisations to create the confidence and get things moving.”

Mr Kirk says he will continue to push the project forward over the next couple of months before making a decision whether to carry on or not.

Coun Kate Allsop, portfolio holder for economic regeneration at the district council, said: “We welcome the private sector interest in this important regeneration site and we are keen to see a development which will create opportunities for local people.

“We will work with all interested developers to help facilitate a new use for the site by providing advice on the type of development suitable for the area, provide links to other relevant development organisations and offer guidance on the planning process.”

A spokesman from Eddisons who are selling the land said: “The status with Mansfield Brewery remains the same. The property is available by way of a private treaty sale. Interest is on going.”