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Hotel plan on hold, land and buildings for sale as coronavirus hits college hopes

Moreton Hall. Photo submitted.
Moreton Hall. Photo submitted.

A VISION to set up a national training hotel at Moreton Morrell College has suffered a setback due to Covid-19 – with college bosses also unveiling plans to sell off land and buildings to boost its finances.

Warwickshire College Group, now called WGC, had previously revealed plans to transform Moreton Hall into a four-star training hotel. This would allow the building to be fully restored after it was damaged by fire in 2008.

Applications to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for stage two funding of £3.8m closed this month and the college group needed to have the remaining £3m of funding raised to ensure approval of the Stage Two funding.

But with the pandemic having hit the hospitality and tourism industry hard – reducing the chances of support for the scheme – and other organisations not loaning funds as they did previously, the plans are now on hold.

In another indication of the financial pressure, including a loss of income from the college's commercial enterprises, WCG has also announced the potential sale of the gatehouse lodge, a residential house at Moreton Morrell College, and some agricultural land.

CEO Angela Joyce said: “We are disappointed to have had to make this decision regarding Moreton Hall and we recognise there was a great appetite among our supporters to see the building restored to its former glory.

“Thanks to the support of the National Heritage Lottery Fund we now have detailed plans for the hall and we hope to implement these plans so that this vision will become a reality at some point in the future.

“From the offset we were looking to the industry to support us in creating this new training facility to support skills development in hospitality and tourism.

“We have also been seeking support from other sources and hope that we may in time be successful through a range of support to resubmit our application to the NHLF with ‘our part’ of the funds already raised.

“Our industry supporters are already telling us that the workforce challenges they faced before the pandemic will reoccur and so the need for Moreton Hall still exists.

“Financial pressure in the College sector has been significant for many years and a global pandemic has made it worse. We will continue to prioritise our students and apprentices; and in order to balance educational objectives while still maintaining a financially stable business, we are taking some tough steps currently."

“By making these difficult decisions we are able to support the long-term future of Moreton Morrell College, and the Government’s skills priorities in a post-Covid and post-Brexit world."

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