Todmorden college is transferred into community ownership

Trustees of Todmorden Learning Centre have announced the successful transfer of Todmorden Community College from Calderdale Council into community ownership.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 11:00 am
Trustees of Todmorden Learning Centre.

The transfer comes after 5 years of campaigning, and fundraising by the community that saved the former college from being bulldozed.

The aim of the centre, which will go under the name of Tod College, is to create a community space for the benefit of the people of Todmorden There will be a range of provision for local people and community groups including opportunities for learning, sports facilities, office, studio, and workshop spaces.

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Central to the team’s vision for young people is to provide the learning necessary to create jobs in the new green economy. The college has successfully secured National Lottery funds to set up a Climate Challenge College (CCC) as a faculty within Tod College. The CCC faculty will focus on providing skills predominantly for local young people in natural building, agro-ecology and renewable energy systems. Trustee Barbara Jones, who has an extensive career in sustainable construction says “This is a huge win for Todmorden. The CCC is the first of its kind in the country and will once again make Todmorden a national leader in community based innovation – this time in subjects that will combat climate change and provide much needed skills and jobs”

Board member Nick Green, who spear-headed the bid to get funding for the CCC said: “Applying to the National Lottery for the funding was a bold move coming from an relatively new organisation, so it is a tribute to the quality of our ideas that we were awarded a very significant grant to pilot this, one of only a handful of organisations in the country to be successful in the first round. We hope it will lead to a further, larger grant which will allow us to develop unique accredited training for school leavers to enter new green practical professions.”

As well as the Climate Challenge College faculty, the team behind Tod College are investing in existing facilities within the college building such as the sports hall, offices, studio space and WIFI to offer a range of community facilities that currently do not exist in Todmorden. Trustee, Catherine Bann had this to say about some of the future plans for Tod College: “We aim to make Tod College a real hub of the community, offering space for meetings, workshops, rehearsal space, conferences, children’s clubs, societies, dance groups and more. Furthermore with the refurbished gymnasium and the large hall, we are sure that many of the sports clubs that already exist in the town, and those yet to be born, will find a welcome home. The trustees have involved many of Todmorden’s clubs and community groups in consultations and have already won a number of grants to make the shared vision a reality. This includes money from Sports England to refurbish the gym.”

Dave Wardell, chair of Todmorden Learning Centre board said: “It’s been a long time coming. Nearly five years of dreaming, scheming, campaigning, planning, fundraising, and complex legal negotiations. With months of setbacks, including flooding and the long drawn-out Covid pandemic we have finally got to the point where the College is going to be handed over to the Todmorden community. So many people have helped along the way, playing their part, be it waving a placard, helping at an event, serving on the board or giving specialist advice. The campaigning phase was exciting, the planning phase less so. There are too many to name here individually but I feel that thanks are due to all those who have played a part throughout the long campaign that saved the college; stopping the bulldozing of the building and saving it for the town.”

He continued: “We would also like to say a big thank you to the team at Calderdale Council, members and staff, who have made the asset transfer possible and supported us throughout the process. We are grateful for the financial support that has been provided to help relaunch the College in these difficult times, and look forward to a fruitful ongoing partnership to serve the people of Todmorden. Thanks as well to the Co-op Loan Foundation and other local funders for their support in making this transfer a reality.

" From April 1 we have started an exciting stage in the journey; transforming an empty building into a vibrant community space in the heart of our town. We will be working to establish a local, and national, centre for skills for the new green economy offering young people innovative opportunities for learning as well as a community space for sport, leisure, learning and events in the heart of our town.”