The University of Gloucestershire has secured planning permission for the development of its new city campus in Gloucester.
Gloucester City Council’s Planning Committee unanimously approved the university’s plans to transform the former Debenhams building in central Gloucester into a centre for teaching, learning and community partnerships.
Committee members welcomed the application as a positive the way to retain and re-purpose a much-loved building in the heart of the city. They agreed that 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.
The University’s intention to work in partnership with Gloucestershire County Council to provide enhanced public library services, and with health services to provide health and wellbeing facilities, were welcomed. Over the lifetime of the project, the City Campus project will add an estimated £86 million in Gross Value Added to Gloucester’s economy and more than 1,200 jobs.
The University recently released a fly-through video.
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. Construction work is scheduled to begin on site in May 2022, with investigation, enabling and strip-out works already underway.
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 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 our mission that we are the community’s university, working with partners for the benefit of our city, county and region.
“This project represents is 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. Once complete, the building will house nearly 4,000 students and 350 staff.
“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.”
The phase one plans include development of the ground floor, lower ground floor and first floor of the building.
A ground floor café will look out onto King’s Square, and the university is progressing plans with Gloucestershire County Council for a new public library on the ground floor.
Cllr Dave Norman, Cabinet member for Public Protection, Parking and Libraries at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “I am delighted to see the excellent progress made on the University of Gloucestershire’s project, and that it has been supported with the grant of planning permission.”
A multi-disciplinary design team led by ADP worked with staff and students to finalise the phase one plans. They will work with contractor, the Morgan Sindall Group, to deliver the ambitious redevelopment project.
The redevelopment of the adjacent King’s Square is now almost complete and work is well underway on The Forum – a mixed-use commercial development, including housing, a hotel, and office space designed to attract digital and tech companies.
Together with the Forge Digital Hub, an innovation hub for cyber businesses which is part of The Forum, and the redevelopment of the 15th Century Fleece Hotel, the City Campus project is the centrepiece of Gloucester’s successful £20 million bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.