THE chief executive of Hereford’s new university says they are in talks to move into the former Robert Owen Academy building.

The Blackfriars Street school officially closed for good last July following a government decision to shut it down in March.

But the site could reopen and form part of New Model in Technology & Engineering's leaders' vision for higher education in the city.

CEO and provost Elena Rodriguez-Falcon said she is in discussions with Herefordshire Council and the Department for Education with a view to securing a lease for it.

The former Hereford School for Boys could become NMiTE’s first learning space, if all goes well.

“The building is ideal, it’s empty and it can only be used for educational purposes,” she said.

“So fingers crossed. We are hoping to get the lease soon and will start renovating to get the learning spaces ready for September.

Ms Rodriguez-Falcon says they are also working to secure the residential accommodation for their first group of 50 students.

“We know by September we should have got it right,” she said.

“As far as we can tell, no university in the world has been co-developed with young people at the beginning.

“We need to make sure we get everything in place for the launch.”

In terms of the university’s name, she says the intention has always been to rename NMiTE once everything is in place.

She said: “It has always been a work in progress name.

“The thing with everything is once you get used to something, the danger with keeping this name for too long is that it becomes your brand.

“The idea is to change the name of the university project as soon as we can put in place our marketing provision.”

A Herefordshire Council spokesperson said: “The council is supporting the University with its development plans and is in discussions with the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, who presently hold a long term lease of the property, regarding the process for the council to grant landlord’s consent for the MHCLG to grant a sub-lease to NMiTE to occupy the buildings.”