Government gives £14m to fund Peterborough university’s new research hub as planning application goes in

Peterborough’s new university has been given £14m from the Government’s local growth programme to fund a new research ‘super hub’.

By Mark Edwards
Tuesday, 4th August 2020, 5:15 am
The planned Peterborough university campus on the Embankment.
The planned Peterborough university campus on the Embankment.

The city is set to be one of the biggest winners from the local growth programme with the £14.6m cash injection to fund the new university’s hub.

Today’s (August 4) announcement follows a bid from the Cambridgshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and lobbying from Peterborough MP, Paul Bristow.

The research ‘super-hub’ is crucial to the wider plans for the new Peterborough University, unveiled last month by combined authority Mayor James Palmer.

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The new university is being planned in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University and the ‘super hub’ was a central part of the project designed to connect with local and global firms in manufacturing, digital and environmental sectors, with the aim of creating innovation-led growth and high-value jobs for the city.

The research ‘super hub’ is considered one of the unique elements in the university development but was originally planned to be funded by partnerships with businesses.

The money promised by the government should now all but guarantee that development will go ahead according to city MP Paul Bristow.

He told the Peterborough Telegraph:“This is fantastic news. When the Prime Minister said he wanted shovel-ready projects, I knew Peterborough could top the list. Our plans for a new university symbolise our city’s potential. Now those ambitions are shared and backed by the Government.

“Today’s news follows weeks of lobbying. The research super hub will bring new companies and jobs, linking Peterborough with opportunities around the world. It’s a game changer for our city.

“This Government promised to level up and invest outside of London and the South. They put their money where their mouth is — in fact, we got even more than we asked for, ensuring the hub can go ahead.

“Peterborough is on the East Coast mainline and the A1. We have strong engineering, agriculture and manufacturing industries. We are full of hardworking talented people. The Government sees a city full of promise and we are getting the investment we deserve.”

The Government has pledged £900m for a range of ‘shovel ready’ local growth projects in England over the course of this year and next.

The investment in Peterborough is one of the largest individual schemes in the country and comes as a planning application for the new university has been submitted by Pegasus Group, on behalf of Peterborough HE Property Company, to Peterborough City Council.

The submission of the planning application for the new university, on the Wirrina Car Park off Bishop’s Road, has been led by Mace Limited and designed by MCW Architects.

It marks an important step in the delivery of the proposals, and follows on from a public consultation exercise in February.

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) is the official higher education partner for the new ‘employment-focused’ university, which will be known as ARU Peterborough.

The new university is set to open to its first cohort of 2,000 students in 2022, with the aim to increase the number of courses to accommodate 12,500 students by 2030.

In response to emerging areas of employment, the university’s first four faculties will be:

The Faculty of Business, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Faculty of Creative and Digital Arts and Sciences

The Faculty of Agriculture, Environment and Sustainability

The Faculty of Health and Education

ARU Peterborough aims to deliver solutions to the practical shortage of degree-level employees in Peterborough, with the city ranked in the bottom 10 per cent in the UK for skills levels.

Plans state that students will be able to learn through a mixture of on-campus lessons, in-work training and apprenticeships.

The university also hopes that distance learning and outreach programmes will improve accessibility and widen participation.

Mayor James Palmer, said: “Thanks to our commitment to delivery and our challenging of old thinking, this university project is now really gathering pace. We have completed the business case, we have formed a partnership with Anglian Ruskin University, and now our plans for the campus buildings are starting their way through the planning process.

“As this University grows it will act as a real disruptor in the higher education market, providing top class education with a real chance of a local job at the end. I hope this application will be swiftly dealt with, so we can carry on pushing the delivery of the University the people of Peterborough have been waiting 20 years for.”

Councillor John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council and deputy mayor of the combined authority, said: “It has been a great few weeks for the university with Anglia Ruskin announced as our higher education partner to deliver the curriculum and manage the university and now the submission of the planning application for the new buildings on the Embankment site.

“Plans really are progressing fast and it won’t be long before we see the first students walk through the doors in just two years’ time.

“A dedicated university for Peterborough will see huge improvement in the opportunities available to our residents; the success of our businesses; and on informing external perceptions of Peterborough as we progress from a small to a medium sized city and one which will become an even more attractive place to live, work and set up business.”

Professor Roderick Watkins, Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: “The development of ARU Peterborough provides a huge opportunity to tackle the social and economic inequalities that exist across the region.

“We look forward to working with our partners to build an outstanding, employment-focused university for Peterborough and welcoming our first students, both on and off campus, in September 2022.”