Council to press ahead with Waterside Academy despite Dragon’s withdrawal

Artist's impression of the Waterside Academy, Aylesbury
Artist's impression of the Waterside Academy, Aylesbury

Details of a new education and training hub next to the Waterside Theatre will go before councillors next month.

It comes after Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones pulled out of building the headquarters of his Enterprise Academy at the site in Exchange Street.

Aylesbury Vale District Council has decided to plough ahead with the project, renaming it the Waterside Academy.

The four-storey building will feature two restaurants and a cafe open to the public on the ground floor while the other floors will be taken over by Aylesbury College and Bucks New University.

Council leader John Cartwright said the academy could be built by the end of 2014.

He said: “It has an exciting potential to provide employment and training for local people and would complete the Waterside development to the south of Exchange Street.

“It moves a block of young people into the town centre and there will be facilities that the public can go to.”

The original price-tag of the Enterprise Academy was £13 million but new costings will be put to the council’s cabinet when it meets on March 5.

Mr Cartwright said the building must make a profit for the council in the long-run via rental income.

He added that it was ‘sad’ that tycoon Peter Jones, whose Enterprise Academy teaches aspiring entrepreneurs real-life business skills, was no longer involved.

“I suppose the numbers didn’t quite stack up for them. My understanding is they lost interest in the project.”

Aylesbury College and Bucks New University are in the final stages of preparing businesses cases for the academy.

Pauline Odulinski, principal of Aylesbury College, said: “We are very excited. We are looking for a different kind of educational offer, very much focussed on business and employers. It will support the skills needed for the local economy.”

Vice Chancellor of Bucks New University, Prof Ruth Farwell, said: “The Waterside Academy building presents an exciting prospect to deliver educational opportunities across all levels in Aylesbury town centre.”whose Entr