Toby Wood and Kem Mehmed - Peterborough Civic Society:
Plans for a University of Peterborough received a giant boost at the end of March when the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Board decided to allocate £9.74m for the project, a big jump from the £2.5m it had promised last year.
The new cash will be for a phased development to provide buildings for teaching and other facilities for 2,000 full time students at a single site on the Embankment. No student or staff residential accommodation is included in this phase.
The Combined Authority had considered three options on site selection. These were; an interim building for 1,000 students at Regional College; a site for 1,000 students on the Embankment and; a building for 2,000 students as the first phase of single campus for 12,500 students on the Embankment.
The recent report, produced by surveyors Gleeds, contains exhaustive cost comparisons and also contains a sketch plan of the full campus. It shows a site using land currently occupied by the Regional Pool, the running track and the existing car parks.
The report covers costs of providing and maintaining the facilities but no figures are included for the replacement of the swimming pool, running track or public car-park. Not all of these are lost in phase one but are a consequence of the sketch plan for the complete campus. The cost of the pool and athletics facilities could amount around £5 million and should be a major concern and the facilities displaced by the scheme must be re-provided before development gets underway. Incidentally, no mention of a foot/cycle bridge to link with Fletton Quays is in the report. The cost of about £1.5m would have to be found from other budgets.
There is very little information about the timing of the project apart from a brief reference to an ambition to ‘increase UCP student capacity by September 2019’. If this target relates to a building on the Embankment site it is utterly unrealistic. There has been no public consultation on the location of a University Campus. The Civic Society strongly supports the proposal to establish a university, but it needs to have wide support amongst the general public.
To encourage meaningful public debate there needs to be good old-fashioned ‘Master Planning’ with an assessment of the character of the whole of the Embankment site including all the existing assets to be retained and enhanced to produce a Development Master Plan to guide development of the campus buildings. Our vision would encompass a complex of inter-linked buildings for teaching, social, recreational and residential activities in a landscaped parkland setting, primarily for the university, but open to all.
In 2012 the Society, along with Peterborough Photographic Society, produced the book ‘Peterborough and its villages in detail’ which included hundreds of photographs of architectural details. It is still available via the Society or good bookshops. We have taken images from the book and created six greetings cards which are available from the Cathedral shop. The subjects of the cards are windows; doors; chimneys; steeples, towers and turrets; weathervanes and carvings of Peterborough. We will also be selling the cards at the Heritage Festival in June.
These cards have been specially produced in order to raise funds for the Cathedral, and will make ideal Christmas presents. Consequently may we be the first to wish PT readers a very Happy Christmas 2018!