New vision starts to take shape for ‘transformative’ Peterborough University Quarter

Work is underway to create a blueprint for a multi-million pound development of Peterborough’s University Quarter.

By Paul Grinnell
Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 2:47 pm
ARU Peterborough - first teaching building.

The ambitious plans will cover a 13 hectares site around the city’s university, ARU Peterborough, which is currently under construction on the former Wirrina Car Park, in Bishop’s Road.

The new proposals will envisage an expanded campus to accommodate extra university teaching space, innovation and research facilities.

The planned University Quarter Cultural Hub and ‘Living Lab’ science facility will be open to the public.

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ARU Peterborough - the planned second phase.

The blueprint is being drawn up by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority with ARU Peterborough, which have started the process to secure outline planning permission from Peterborough City Council for the development at the north of the Embankment site.

The aim is to provide a planning framework that will guide development of future phases of the university, in a move the Combined Authority says will be transformative for Peterborough.

It will also tie in with the council’s own masterplan for the Embankment, which includes the university site at the north end adjacent to Bishop’s Road.

The move comes after the Combined Authority approved a £100,000 contribution to the council’s £300,000 masterplan.

Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “This University outline planning process is at an early stage, but it will help ensure that the long term planning and development of the ARU Peterborough site matches our aspiration to deliver a really fantastic new asset not just for students, but for the whole city.

“Ensuring ARU Peterborough is well planned will support its core mission to tackle unfairness and change lives, addressing the fact the city is in the bottom 10 per cent for skill levels in the UK.

“Boosting skills will be a lever for opportunities for great careers, more growth and investment from business, and to provide people in Peterborough and the region with a step-change in aspirations, life chances, health and wellbeing.

He added: “These are big ambitions but we are confident in our approach.

“ARU Peterborough is different because it will directly respond to the needs of local employers, who are already playing a role as co-creators of the curriculum.

“In turn the university will give people the skills they needs to support local business and thrive in a growing local economy.”

Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, Leader of Peterborough City Council and Combined Authority Deputy Mayor, said: “A university quarter could be a huge development for our city’s future and as it’s important that this is aligned with the city’s future expansion.

“It is encouraging that this will be linked to the city council’s own masterplan for the Embankment area, which is just a short walk from the university site.”

Professor Ross Renton, Principal of ARU Peterborough, said: “The University Quarter will include an interactive ‘Living Lab’ science facility, which will be open to the public.

“We believe it is important for the future of the city that the new university has space to flourish and develop cutting edge facilities, whilst ensuring there are high quality green spaces available to everyone.

“We are determined that ARU Peterborough will be a fantastic addition to the city.”

The first phase of ARU Peterborough is expected to open to students next September.

The second phase, which involves the construction of a Manufacturing and Materials Research and Development Centre, part of a joint venture with Peterborough business Photocentric, will be completed in December next year.

A third phase will see the expansion of teaching facilities as well as a publicly assessable University Quarter Cultural Hub and ‘Living Lab’ science facility.

This phase is the subject of a £20 million funding bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, with a decision expected later this year.