PLANS for the new college campus in Basildon town centre have been shrunk in half.

South Essex College’s new campus in Basildon’s Market Square will be reduced in size, according to newly submitted plans.

Initial plans were for a floor space of 8,050 square metres, bigger than a full size football pitch but the reduced 3,212 square metres plans wouldn’t make it to the halfway line.

The number of staff at the site has also been cut from 150 to 58 however this doesn’t mean 92 redundancies as staff are based across sites.

A spokesman for the college said: “Since planning permission was granted, the original project has been subject to delays beyond the college’s control.

“Previously the college was proposing a general further education mix of subjects in Basildon but has used the time to liaise with regional and local government, South Essex Local Enterprise Partnership and employers to shape our offer across Basildon, Southend and Thurrock.

“As such the new market square site will focus on digital technologies identified as one of Essex Skills Board’s priority sectors.

“The new campus will accommodate in excess of 1,000 students.

“The majority of our staff members work across all our sites.

“Some staff from the old Basildon Campus will simply move to one of our other numerous campuses across south Essex.

“For example, our new Stephenson Road site in Eastwood will now house our motor vehicle provision as it is not viable to locate these industrial facilities in the town centre.”

The decision to reduce the provision at the new site will have no impact on the ambitious merger plans between the college and Prospects College of Advanced Technology, with the eventual goal of a technical university for Basildon.

The spokesman for the college added: “By merging with Procat we will increase our education provision in Basildon establishing ourselves as a leading technical, engineering and construction training provider.”

Councillor Andrew Baggott, leader of Basildon Council, said: “The initial plans in the town centre included more engineering-based subjects which would require more equipment, so the change to a digital technology focus would naturally mean a smaller footprint for the site”.

The site was originally planned to have a capacity of 1,520 students.

The move for the college is tied to the Dry Street development, which will see the development of 725 homes on the college’s old Nethermayne campus.