A grant of £833,000 will be given by Lewes District Council to help pay for building the University Technical College in Newhaven, which incorporates the listed marine workshops.
The extra money is needed to make up for a shortfall in funding from the Department for Education (DfE) as its funding model for building university technical colleges does not provide for rejuvenating listed buildings.
However the district council decided it was important to restore this important part of Newhaven’s heritage.
The decision was made to approve the grant at the council’s cabinet meeting at Southover House in Lewes on Monday January 24.
The Liberal Democrats raised questions about what the £833,000 would be used for.
It was explained at the meeting that the shortfall had arisen because of the listed marine workshops and more money was needed to make it viable than was available in the DfE’s funding model.
Leader of the council James Page (Con, Telscombe)said: “We are going to get 600 students just across the bridge from the town centre. This scheme is about regeneration.”
The district council has put aside money from its Strategic Priority Fund to cover the £883,000 shortfall and a further sum to build a riverside boardwalk around the new college.
Speaking after the meeting, Lib Dem leader Chris Bowers (Ouse Valley and Ringmer) said: “We are very keen to see the UTC happen, and it would be a great boost for Newhaven, but when we see a projected funding gap, it’s important that someone asks some questions so we don’t get any shocks further down the line.
“The information we were given in the cabinet papers was fairly sparse, which is why we sought explanations from the chief executive and the director of finance.
“I will be recommending to the Lib Dem councillors that they support making the £883,000 available, and I’m confident it will go through.
“We want to see the UTC happen, and the assurances we have been given mean we’re happy to move forward. The project remains on track.”
Cllr Steve Saunders (L.Dem, Newhaven Valley) added: “After our recent experience with the abortive Water Park, it was important for us to assure ourselves this is money well spent. But the council’s officers have done a very thorough job.This amounts to valuable investment in Newhaven, and now we have more information we’re keen to see it come to fruition.”