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University outlines plans for new campus

Posted on 27 February 2003

Plans for a large extension to the University of York's main campus at Heslington have been released today. The Masterplan for the site, known as Heslington East, shows a green, landscaped site edged with woodland and a large lake, and served by environmentally friendly transport systems.

The University has also submitted a draft Development Brief to the City of York Council outlining the guiding principles of development. These include issues such as transport, building density, environmental impact and sensitivity to the local area. The City of York Council is set to consider the Development Brief for adoption as part of the planning process.

The publication of the Masterplan and the Development Brief follow extensive consultations with local residents in Heslington and Badger Hill and with the staff and students of the University. Their feedback, which focused on the environment, transport and design, social and leisure facilities has enabled the masterplanners to identify key components of the extended campus. These features include:

  • a large lake along the south side of the site;
  • a central ‘movement spine' down the middle of the campus for pedestrians, cyclists and a green ‘people mover' – perhaps a light bus, tram or electric vehicle;
  • green buffer zones near Heslington village and along the full length of Field Lane to preserve the rural feel of the location and protect local views; woodland on the top of Kimberlow Hill;
  • the integrated development of academic departments, residential colleges, space for spin-off companies and social buildings;
  • road access adjacent to Kimberlow Hill, and pedestrian and cycle access from the existing campus and the Grimston Bar Park and Ride site;
  • the highest building density reducing from higher to lower ground.

Social facilities on Heslington East are likely to include:

  • a small arts centre, for both University and public use, complementing other arts facilities in York;
  • sports facilities, including indoor sports halls, a dance studio and better provision for the disabled – for competition, fitness and therapeutic purposes;
  • a regional sporting centre of excellence;
  • shops, cafes and a conference centre.

Key facilities for the city and the region

"Heslington East will enable the University to respond to the enormous pressures on it to grow," said Professor Brian Cantor, Vice-Chancellor. "But this exciting project is about more than the University, it will have enormous benefits for the city, the region and the country.

"Heslington East will provide some first class facilities for local people. We hope to have a theatre, sports facilities which are open to all, a pleasant parkland campus with a large lake for people to walk around, and shared pre-school nursery provision. It will allow the University to provide high quality jobs, boost the economic development of the city and the region, and contribute to the national need for high quality higher education."

Working together in key strategic areas

"There are some key areas – housing, transport, leisure and jobs - where the University needs to work very closely with the City of York Council," he added. "These include the provision of student accommodation. The University's growth must include accommodation for students, partly so that our expansion does not adversely affect the availability of affordable housing in York.

"We also need to work together on transport issues. We know from surveys that only one third of the traffic in Heslington and Badger Hill is related to University business. Consequently, we must work with the city to address the other two-thirds. All proposals must work well with the city's transport strategy to ensure a reduction in traffic density overall.

"In both these areas, as well as the areas of leisure and job creation, we are working closely with the City Council and with other partners such as Science City York, North Yorkshire County Council, Yorkshire Forward and local MPs."

Pressures to grow

The University is facing a number of pressures to grow. It is one of Britain's most successful universities – ranked first for teaching quality, sixth for research, and the only university in the north to be ranked in the top ten of every national league table. As well as the pressures which success brings, there are a number of other factors forcing expansion:

  • Government policy is to encourage 50% of young adults to participate in higher education, which means growth in every area of the sector;
  • the Government has also stressed its view that universities should be the dynamo for the growth of the knowledge-based economy;
  • the Regional Economic Strategy places universities at the heart of the local economy;
  • new developments at York, such as the medical school, mean that student numbers will grow;
  • some departments are very popular with student applicants, but cannot accommodate any more in current facilities;
  • the University intends to introduce some new subjects to complement its existing work. These may include new courses in business, finance and law, subjects allied to medicine (such as pharmacy), and the expansion of performing and creative arts, particularly drama, film and television, music and journalism;
  • local planning is likely to ensure that the majority of student accommodation will be provided by higher education institutions in York to protect housing opportunities for local people;
  • the University's academic reputation continues to attract new research groups who wish to join us, and other pressures for increasing research activity;
  • there is continued demand for science park-type developments for spin-off companies and relocating companies who need to be near cognate University departments.

"All of these plans are at a very early stage," said Brian Cantor. "The Masterplan and the draft Development Brief give us some key building blocks. We are enormously grateful to everyone who has fed into the plans so far, particularly local residents. Their contribution via the Community Forum, chaired by Councillor Martin Brumby, has been focused and forward-looking. We intend to continue our consultations with the local community and with the University community to ensure that the expansion is sensitive to all needs and a worthwhile development for the whole city."

Notes to editors:

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153