LOCALS said it was "really positive" to see plans in place for the redevelopment of the former college site at Five Acres at a community drop-in session last week.

Council staff said a "steady" stream of residents attended the four-hour drop in session at Five Acres High School last Thursday (November 25), at which people were invited to view and give feedback on plans for the new £9 million community and leisure facility.

Members of the project team said that feedback from residents was very positive, most of whom were pleased to see the site being developed for use by the local community.

Some of those who attended said they were pleased by the variety of proposed bookable spaces on offer in the plans, including the potential use of sports pitches by local clubs.

One resident said: "It’s great to see the site being developed with a wide range of uses in mind for local people."

Another added: "With the site having been unused for so long, I think the plans are really positive for the local community and the Forest in general."

Forest of Dean District Council secured £9 million of funding for the development from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund in October.

A joint £20 million bid for investment from the £4.8 billion fund was submitted by the district council, Hartpury College and University and Cinderford Town Council earlier this year.

The successful bid, which was supported by Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper, included £10 million for a new innovation, careers and enterprise learning centre at Hartpury, while Cinderford Town Council will receive £880k for to regenerate the town centre, including bringing vacant buildings back into use.

The first phase of the Five Acres development consists of the refurbishment of the existing Speedwell building, which includes the demolition of adjacent buildings to create a new "naturally lit" entrance space.

The ground floor plans include a gym, changing facilities, office and meeting space and a central cafe.

The first floor includes further office and meeting space, a multi-function community room and two dance studios.

Further multi-function rooms are planned for the second floor, along with two "satellite learning spaces" for Hartpury University and College.

Existing hard sports courts at the site will also be retained and upgraded.

Phase two of the development consists of the building of a new four-court sports hall, a 3G pitch and cycle hub.

Future plans include the development of a hotel, to be located near the sports hall and parking areas.

Demolition works at the site are set to begin in January, with phase one due to be completed by the end of next year.

The team will then aim to complete phase two of the development by the end of 2023.

A ballot box was provided at the drop-in session for people to anonymously leave feedback on the plans.

A feedback form asked for residents’ thoughts on the refurbishment of the Speedwell building, particularly the proposed layout and uses for each floor.

It also asked for feedback on plans for the new sports hall, including which sports and activities they would like to see included in the design for the building.

Residents were also asked if they support an indicative layout for the overall site, including proposed locations for the sports hall, 3G artificial pitch and hotel.