The announcement the university technical college would be built on Railway Quay in Newhaven and incorporate the listed marine workshop was cautiously welcome by some local councillors.
Cllr Rod Main (L.Dem, Newhaven Denton and Meeching) pointed out some proposals to rejuvenate the town had failed to get off the ground.
And Cllr Steve Saunders (L.Dem, Newhaven Valley) added he would like to see the college encompass more of Railway Quay, which is a gateway to the town.
Cllr Main said: “This looks like a good use for these buildings with the future use linked into the historical use.
“Perhaps small steps forward in regeneration are better than trying to do big-bang type projects.”
Cllr Main said:“Perhaps small steps forward in regeneration are better than trying to do big-bang type projects.
“I will be interested to see the full plans as soon as they are available.
“If I am a little wary here it is because Newhaven has had any number of proposals for which no solid plans were ever forthcoming. Water park anyone?
“However, in principle, this sounds as if it has a good chance of getting off the ground and, as far as the quayside is concerned, that can only be a good thing.”
A previous scheme for the site, from developer Arrowcroft for a supermarket, restoring listed buildings and riverside boardwalk, was turned down last year on highways grounds.
But Aldridge Foundation spokesperson Sue Simmons said: “We are working with East Sussex County Council to address any issues with highway access but don’t anticipate the same issues as with the supermarket development.
“The injection of funding into the transport interchange in Newhaven will also be of benefit to students attending the UTC.”
Cllr Saunders added: “It is encouraging that this scheme continues to move forward after the many disappointments we have endured.
“Like many others, I am still very upset at the earlier planning decision over the Arrowcroft scheme for the area and feel that this would have been a better development for the area.
“I have also not yet had a chance to speak with NPP, to see how the proposals fit in with their future development plans and their hopes to improve the ferry terminal access, or the transport interchange requirements at the port.
“I hope that any plans for the site include improvements to the boardwalk and berths and take account of the importance of this area as a gateway into the town.”
Cllr Saunders said there were many vacant sites on Eastside, such as the Parker Pen site, which he would like to see the college make use of.
Leader of Lewes District Council James Page (Con, East Saltdean and Telscombe Cliffs) said: “I’m absolutely delighted that this major project has got the go ahead and am fully behind the use of the Railway Quay site for the UTC.
“I believe that local people will be pleased to see the buildings put to good use. We have had our first request for a place for a student from a parent which bodes well for the future.”
Newhaven mayor Julie Carr said: “This is fantastic news for Newhaven. This project promises to deliver a bright future for Newhaven’s young people as well as being a first step in the regeneration of a prime area of quayside.”
Newhaven MP Norman Baker added: “It is good that swift progress is being made. The site identified is absolutely ideal.”
The grade II listed workshop was contructed in 1882 but has been empty for some years. The college is due to open in September 2015 to 600 students.
The marine workshop was used to repair both train and ship engines and was actively used until the early 1960s.
The site has been vacant for a number of years and owner the Royal Bank of Scotland offered the site to the partners behind the University Technical College. Discussions are underway with the government to finalise the site.
Employers are helping to design the college, to ensure students are provided with clear routes into jobs or further education and are ready for the world of work.