A flagship £7.5 million education centre to teach vital work skills to teenagers will instead be mainly used by eco-businesses.
Peterborough City Council’s plans for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Centre at the Posh ground began being drawn up seven years ago to provide education for 16-19 year-olds.
The centre has just been completed but now the council is seeking approval to change its use from education to business.
However, council leaders insist that what they now call a ‘Skills Centre’ will still provide much-needed education and will create high-skilled jobs.
Council deputy leader Councillor John Holdich, who is cabinet member for education, said: “Peterborough has moved on in the last seven years and you don’t stand still.
“The University Technical College (UTC) will take on the centre’s role and we will still encourage young people.
“The centre will be there to support new businesses in bringing things to market and will create apprenticeships.
“It’s very exciting and there will still be an education platform at the site including a research centre.
“This centre will create high-skilled jobs.”
It was announced last month that the opening of the UTC had been delayed for a year, but Cllr Holdich is confident it will still be a success.
The STEM Centre was part of a £9.5 million redevelopment at the London Road ground which included the building of the Moy’s (now Motorpoint) Stand where the centre is housed.
The contract to start the Moy’s End redevelopment was signed in October 2013.
The department of education provided £5.5 million of the funding, with the council providing the rest, but Cllr Holdich insists the criteria for the funding still applies.
The centre was expected to deliver vocational training in areas such as electronics and plumbing. The change in the centre’s focus from education to business was put forward in a planning application to the council in March.
The council expects to announce a new operator for the centre in the coming weeks.
A council spokesman said there had been significant changes to national education policy which included local authorities no longer having powers to determine the nature of post-16 education provision in the city.
The spokesman, who would not say whether the change in provision from education to business was a failure in policy, added: “The centre will provide a focal point for environmental businesses as well as creating educational opportunities.
“Through these businesses young people will be supported to gain the skills they need for future employment.
“Businesses based at the centre will appoint apprentices as well as sharing their skills and knowledge with schools and colleges by providing work experience placements, monitoring and research opportunities.”
Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Peterborough Darren Fower said: “My gut says this is another vanity project which we are familiar with from the cabinet.”