University unveils campus improvement plan to benefit students and community

University unveils campus improvement plan to benefit students and community

The University of Cumbria today invites the public to take part in a pre-application consultation to reshape one of its largest campuses.

Following a comprehensive review of educational provision and facilities the university updated its estates strategy in 2018 and has been developing a Masterplan for the Lancaster campus and is now considering the best future use for parts of this site.

Whilst seeking to reduce the size of the site, the University of Cumbria wants to improve the quality of accommodation for its students and deliver community facilities in association with local councils and service providers.

The university intends to submit a planning application to provide new student housing and rationalise parts of the land on campus and has been working closely with development partner UK Structured Finance to achieve this.

The areas include former tennis courts that have not been in use since at least 2012 and which are situated behind an all-weather pitch near Anderson Close. It is proposed that these could be redeveloped as supported living apartments for local residents in need. A collection of under-used and vacant buildings behind the campus chapel and Gateway building is where the university wants to build new student accommodation, and an Extra Care Village for elderly local residents.

Members of the public have the opportunity to find out more about these planned improvements and submit views before any formal planning application is lodged.

Usually, the university would host a series of small public consultation events to allow local residents to see the plans and discuss them with architects and the development partner. Due to government social distancing regulations and other Covid-19 restrictions on movement in place, a special website has been created instead.

Kate McLaughlin-Flynn, Director of Finance and Resources at the university, said: “Over the last two years the university has been working to deliver its estates strategy which was agreed in 2018. The objectives of this strategy are to deliver just enough of the right type of space and services, available at the right times, in the right condition, at sustainable financial and environmental cost.

“Good progress has been made and whilst we have invested in new buildings and refurbishing others, the amount of space that we occupy is not proportionate to the size of the university and our future delivery plans; we have too much space. Many of the older buildings are in poor condition, not suitable for modern teaching or empty. This brings high costs to both maintain and run, but also to improve the poorer buildings to a suitable standard.”

Members of the public are reminded that this invitation is in advance of any formal planning application to the local authority, at which point there will still be a full and formal consultation undertaken.

Kate added: “This is an opportunity for us to engage with local residents and the public before a planning application is made.  Pre-application engagement would normally be confined to events lasting a few hours on a couple of different days, this consultation is open on-line for a whole week.”

The university’s Lancaster campus consultation opens today and will close next Wednesday, 29 April. University of Cumbria also has campuses in Carlisle, Ambleside and London and partnerships in Barrow and west Cumbria.

Find out more about the university’s plans for its Lancaster campus at  www.UoCLancasterCampusPlans.org or bit.ly/UOCPLANS.