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The Corporation

Posted: 18/03/19

Students learn on-the-job at Old Town Hall revamp

Renovation and repurposing work on Mansfield's Old Town Hall is providing valuable learning experiences for construction students at West Nottinghamshire College.

  • Construction students Alana Coupe (second left) and Luis Page-Morley (second right) are joined by Coun Dave Saunders, portfolio holder for regeneration and growth at Mansfield District Council, and Executive Mayor Kate Allsop.
  • Alana and Luis are gaining industry-specific work experience on the Old Town Hall renovation.

The £1.4m scheme is a flagship project in Mansfield District Council's regeneration strategy to encourage the town to be seen as a destination for visitors, shoppers and businesses looking to invest in the district.

As part of the contract to refurbish the Grade II* listed building, building firm Rosslee Construction pledged to ensure that local students were offered the chance to do work experience during the scheme.  

It contacted the college to offer work placements for a total of around 30 students who are studying at its construction centre in Kirkby-in-Ashfield. Two students will be on-site at any one time, completing a two-week block placement shadowing and supporting qualified professionals.

To date, five have completed placements, organised in conjunction with the construction department’s employability and work placement partnership co-ordinator Holly Moore. These will be offered until work on the scheme ends in spring next year. 

Paul Hodgson, commercial director of Rosslee Construction, said: "There are lots of jobs which the students are supporting. Mostly they have been shadowing renovation professionals involved in painting, decorating and fitting.” 

Glynn Statham, head of construction and building services at the college, said: “Our students are really excited about the fantastic opportunity they’ve been given to support Rosslee Construction with the renovations of Mansfield’s Old Town Hall.

"The placements are giving them industry-specific work experience and allowing them to develop their skills working with trade professionals on a live construction site, which is extremely beneficial for them both academically and professionally.

"We’re extremely grateful for the chance for our joinery and painting and decorating students to work on such a prestigious heritage scheme, refurbishing a local landmark within the community, especially as it is a listed building.”

Among the students to benefit from the scheme are 17-year-old Luis Page-Morley, who is studying the Level 2 Technical Certificate in Architectural Joinery, and Alana Coupe, 18, who is studying the Level 1 Diploma in Painting and Decorating.

They are both undertaking a two-week placement and are thrilled to be involved in such a prestigious scheme.

Luis said: "It's been really good and I have really enjoyed it so far. Property renovation is something I have been wanting to go into, so it has been great experience."

Alana said: "It's a fabulous experience – I love it. It's just a gorgeous building to do up and it's been great to work with people in your trade." 

Executive Mayor of Mansfield Kate Allsop caught up with the two students working on the building to find out how the scheme was helping to support their studies. 

She said: "This scheme is not only breathing new life into a beautiful and important historic building that has been idle for more than 30 years, it is also helping to bring on the next generation learning a trade at our fantastic local college. 

"The building is looking great and the work is progressing well. We already have interest from businesses wanting to rent space there."

The scheme will create three new retail units on the ground floor and two medium-sized offices on the first floor, and redevelop two existing retail units at the side of the hall. It is anticipated that the prestige building in a prime location will encourage new independent retailers and create at least 20 new employment opportunities within the town. 

The old Council Chamber at the front of the building on the first floor is also being refurbished, with the intention of making it available for hire for functions, business use or weddings. 

There will be no significant changes to the exterior of the building to preserve the historic character of the property. 

The council is contributing £775,000 towards the scheme with £700,000 being delivered by the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership as part of its £7.63m N2 Town Centres Programme.