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Celebration for start of building works for second teaching building with ‘Living Lab’ at ARU Peterborough


Celebration for start of building works for second teaching building with ‘Living Lab’ at ARU Peterborough

A ceremonial spade was dug into the ground to mark the start of works to build a second teaching building incorporating a ‘Living Lab’ science facility at ARU Peterborough, the city’s new university.

On Wednesday (June 21) representatives from the partners developing the university, the Combined Authority, Peterborough City Council and Anglia Ruskin University, were on site to celebrate the milestone.

This third phase of the ARU Peterborough campus is on the site of the former Regional Pool car park, next to first teaching building, University House, which opened to students in September. It is planned to open to in autumn 2024.

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson, Leader of Peterborough City Council, Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, ARU Peterborough Principal Prof Ross Renton, ARU Vice Chancellor Prof Roderick Watkins and Combined Authority Business Board member Rebecca Stephens, were among those marking the start of works alongside contractor Morgan Sindall Construction.

The Living Lab, part of the second teaching building, will be a publicly accessible, interactive science facility and education space. It aims to engage and inspire residents and visitors in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) topics. It will form part of a pedestrian-friendly campus and will have the flexibility to host a variety of events, exhibitions, education opportunities with local schools, immersive displays, talks, forums and potentially evening classes. Students will also be able to engage the community in their research, embedding work at the university even further in the community.

The second teaching building will help realise the ambition of the campus as a new attraction for Peterborough, and a centrepiece within a new University Quarter which is publicly accessible and attractively designed.

The new building will support mainly STEM fields and expand the number of places for students. There will be specialist teaching labs, including in microbiology and engineering, flexible teaching spaces, and a social learning space.

ARU Peterborough is an employment-focused university, with a curriculum developed in collaboration with local employers, giving students the skills demanded in the local economy, helping them into good careers and helping businesses to grow.

The new building will be lower in height and smaller in size than the main University House. It is planned to meet the requirements of an ‘excellent’ BREEAM rating, which is an industry-standard benchmark of a building’s sustainability, including aspects like energy efficiency. Walking and cycling will be encouraged, with cycle parking provided. Landscaping will provide peaceful, attractive areas to socialise or take a break.

The planning application included an assessment of the many heritage assets in the area, including the Grade I Listed Peterborough Cathedral, and established that the proposals would not result in any harm to the heritage interests of the area.

The Living Lab and second teaching building sees another £30 million of investment into Peterborough. This includes £20 million from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, £4 million from Anglia Ruskin University, and £2 million from the Combined Authority’s Business Board. Peterborough City Council has contributed land for the project to an investment value of £2 million

In addition, in a joint commitment, the Combined Authority, Peterborough City Council and Anglia Ruskin University have each recently approved an additional funds to meet further construction and materials costs resulting from inflationary pressures in the economy.

ARU Peterborough is a partnership between the Combined Authority, Peterborough City Council and Anglia Ruskin University.

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson, said: “A major part of the development of ARU Peterborough has been the focus on collaboration and community – values which are at the core of my time as Mayor. The University is already an open, friendly, accessible campus for the city and the Living Lab will really help to embed this emerging new University Quarter as a new destination for residents and visitors alike.

“Showcasing the benefits of higher education and inspiring people in cutting edge science and technology is a big part of what ARU Peterborough is here to do, in a place where levels of skills, including in higher education, are behind the national average. It is fantastic to hit yet another milestone in the rapid and impressive development of this outstanding, award-winning campus and I look forward to seeing it come out of the ground.”

Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “Not so long ago, ARU Peterborough was seen as wishful thinking by some. It’s now been open nearly a whole academic year and has integrated well into our city. This ambitious third phase signals the demand and need for a larger campus – helping to further boost the skills and earning potential of our residents and bringing the whole city more economic prosperity in the years to come.”

Professor Roderick Watkins, Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: “I’m delighted to see work beginning on this important next stage for ARU Peterborough. This second teaching building will allow the university to expand the range of subjects that local people will be able to study, including the provision of postgraduate courses and degree apprenticeships, which is an area that ARU has a particular expertise in. The facilities in this new building will also support ARU Peterborough’s research ambitions, and innovative spaces like the Living Lab will provide an ideal environment for students, researchers, and industry to work together in key areas, such as future green technologies.”

Professor Ross Renton, Principal of ARU Peterborough, said: “The close collaboration between partners has been truly remarkable throughout, and the third phase of ARU Peterborough, which is a long-term investment in the future of this region, is no different. ARU Peterborough has already made fantastic progress and we are already seeing immediate benefits since opening our doors to our first students last September. However, truly significant benefits for the region will be realised over the years to come when our highly skilled graduates start entering the local workforce, helping businesses to grow, and our academics and researchers are collaborating with local companies to jointly tackle the challenges of the future.”

Rebecca Stephens, member of the Combined Authority Business Board, said: “The Business Board has been fully behind the development of ARU Peterborough since the start. It is really fantastic to see such progress in a short space of time. The main objectives of the university, to boost skills through a mix of higher education delivery, including degree apprenticeships, and benefitting a range of local industries, are very much aligned with the ambitions of our Board’s Economic Growth Strategy.”

Jamie Shearman, area director for Morgan Sindall Construction in Cambridgeshire, said: “As a regional business, it is great to be celebrating work commencing at the university as we are excited to be working alongside Peterborough City Council, the Combined Authority and of course, the Anglia Ruskin University.

“The development will have a hugely positive impact on the wider community in Peterborough, delivering real social value through the creation of high-quality jobs within our local supply chains, and opening up opportunities for training and development for the next generation of construction professionals in the region.”