New £16m Peterborough university research centre approved

A new three-storey manufacturing and materials research and development centre for Peterborough’s new university has been approved.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 11:38 am

Members of Peterborough City Council’s Planning and Environmental Protection Committee met for the first time face-to-face on Tuesday with Covid-19 restrictions at the council’s facilities at Sand Martin House.

Speaking at the meeting, Louise Simmonds, case office for the ARU Peterborough project, said: “In approving these plans we will be giving the green light for the next £16.7 million stage of the university project.

“This will allow for the three-storey, manufacturing and materials research and development department of the university to be built, along with the offices for 3D printing specialists, Photocentric, who are development partners with ARUP.

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How the new research centre could look

“The building will have 3,300sq m of internal space and be no more than 13.3m in height to ensure as little interruption to any views of the Grade I Cathedral area and Grade II Lido.

“The application will also approve up to 380 car parking spaces, although there may not be that number in the eventual scheme.

“As things stand at the moment there are 200 existing car park spaces, but in order to maximise the area a multi-storey car park will be required, but we have stipulated that structure cannot be any higher that the R&D building; so, a maximum of 13.3m high.

“There have been a number of objections from local residents about the number of car parking spaces proposed, but with nothing actually finalised at this stage we are simply looking at all the options open to us.

“We have ensured that the closest part of the parking structure will be no closer than 42m from the nearest residential property, where normal planning practice for such a building normally requires 25m.

“Environmental services have confirmed there are no endangered species in the area, and while there needs to be a badger update they are not making any objections to the project.

“Only one tree will be lost as a part of the parking structure construction, and we were aware that this would have to happen whatever plan we decided to go with.

“However, levelled against the amount of planting and landscaping and green activities that the university campus will generate, we feel this one tree is an acceptable loss.

“Whatever happens, the builder of the parking structure will be required to submit plans for a beautiful building that not only fits in with the overall landscaping of the university campus, but must not interfere in any way with the views to the cathedral as these are stipulations from Heritage England.”

Members of the committee voted unanimously to approve the outline planning application.

After the meeting, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Dr Nik Johnson said: “This is another step forward in what has been a long-held ambition within the city.

“Peterborough is our region’s Northern Powerhouse and, with the right investment, the economy can accelerate further and allow more people to share in prosperity and opportunity.

“To see Peterborough at the cutting edge of manufacturing technology and promoting a new generation of highly skilled people will help the city and the wider region achieve more of its untapped potential.”

Leader of Peterborough City Council Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald added: “I am delighted that the ambition to build a university for Peterborough has taken another important step forward.

“Establishing a university in the city will bring immeasurable benefits for our residents, for people across the wider region, for our businesses and for Peterborough as a whole – both now and for generations to come.

“This fantastic facility will help provide our city’s workforce with the rapidly evolving skills and knowledge requirements of the 21st Century workplace. I look forward to seeing our state-of-the-art university continue to take shape.”

ARU Peterborough will open in September 2022, initially with 2,000 students.

The research centre is expected to open in 2023.