Gloucester City Council’s Planning Committee ‘unanimously approved’ the University of Gloucestershire’s plans to transform the former Debenhams building in Gloucester city centre into a modern centre for teaching, learning and community partnerships.
The University said that committee members, who met on Tuesday 1 March 2022, ‘welcomed the application as a positive way to retain and re-purpose a much-loved building in the heart of the city’.
Adding: ‘Converting it into a new teaching campus for the university would contribute significantly to the regeneration of the city, bringing thousands of students into the centre, with consequential benefits for retailers, hospitality businesses and leisure venues in the area.’
Working in partnership with Gloucestershire County Council, the new City Campus project will add an estimated £86 million in Gross Value Added to Gloucester’s economy and more than 1,200 jobs.
Construction work is due to begin on site in May 2022, with investigation, enabling and strip-out works already underway.
The first staff and students, mainly from the School of Health and Social Care, are set to begin using the new teaching facilities from September 2023. Once complete, the building will house nearly 4,000 students and 350 staff.
The phase one plans include development of the ground floor, lower ground floor and first floor of the building. They include learning and teaching spaces equipped with the latest technology, a library, student helpzones and a dedicated faith space.
On the lower ground floor, a large lecture theatre will also act as a conferencing and exhibition space. While on the ground floor, a café will look out onto King’s Square, and the university is in plans with Gloucestershire County Council for a new public library too.
University of Gloucestershire Vice-Chancellor, Stephen Marston, said: ‘We’re delighted that the City Council have endorsed our plans for the redevelopment of this iconic building, and we can now move forward at pace to bring our vision for the City Campus to life.
‘The City Campus will give the University the space we need to grow, given that all our existing campuses are full. But this project is about much more than that. It is a fundamental part of the University’s mission that we are the community’s University, working with partners for the benefit of our city, our county and our region.
‘This project places the University at the heart of our community. It represents a massive investment, not just in the future of the University but working with the City Council and many other partners, in the future of the city itself.
‘As well as the wider benefits of better access for the community to excellent higher education, the City Campus will allow us to increase the supply of nurses and other health professionals to meet the needs of the NHS, and enable joint projects on libraries, health and wellbeing, all of it bringing new vibrancy, new opportunity and new growth to the city.’
A design team led by ADP worked closely with staff and students to finalise the phase one plans. It will work with contractor, the Morgan Sindall Group, to deliver the redevelopment project.
By Michelle Fyrne
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