Extra £20 million of Government funding could be used to boost ARU Peterborough campus
Extra funding for the ARU Peterborough campus is being sought as the city council’s preferred bid for the Government’s Levelling Up Fund scheme.
Today (Friday, 18 June), Peterborough City Council put forward a £20m bid for funding, which – if successful – would combine additional teaching facilities at the campus, with the development of a new University Quarter Cultural Hub. It was submitted following a competitive process and submitted to the Levelling Up Fund for consideration by Government.
To celebrate, those supporting the bid, including Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, leader of Peterborough City Council, Cllr Lynne Ayres, cabinet member for education, skills and the university, MP Paul Bristow, Professor Ross Renton from ARU Peterborough and Rebecca Stephens from the Business Board met at the university site on the Embankment.
At the centre of Peterborough’s bid is a new landmark cultural asset called The Living Lab, located within a second teaching building at ARU Peterborough. This innovative university-managed space would combine learning with an interactive public science facility and would form the heart of a new University Quarter Cultural Hub, helping the city centre become a more attractive destination for residents, businesses, and visitors.
Peterborough currently has lower levels of cultural participation than similar towns and cities. The 2017 Active Lives survey found that just 39% of Peterborough’s population engaged with cultural activities, ranking the city 321st out of the 355 districts surveyed.
The new teaching building would host thousands of students – both school leavers and those already in employment, and drawn mostly from the local area – to study STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects. It is hoped this would allow Peterborough to overcome its current skills deficit, with local graduates helping to fill the higher-skilled jobs of the future, in turn generating local economic growth.
The £28 million to deliver the project would see additional funding comprising Peterborough City Council contributing the land for the project to an investment value of £2 million, Anglia Ruskin University investing £4 million and the Combined Authority’s Business Board contributing £2 million.
The Government’s new Levelling Up Fund is investing a total of £4.8 billion in local infrastructure projects to help regenerate towns and cities across the UK identified as being most in need of additional support.
Peterborough has above average levels of unemployment and child poverty, while the city is also a higher education “cold spot” with only 32 per cent of the population having degree level qualifications, compared to a national average of 43 per cent. Peterborough also ranks 191st out of 324 local authority districts for social mobility, with nearby Fenland ranked 319th.
The development of ARU Peterborough – a partnership between Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Peterborough City Council and Anglia Ruskin University – aims to address these issues, providing a high-quality university education for local people. Construction is currently under way on the initial phase, and it will open its doors to the first students in September next year.
A second phase for the university, which will see the development of a £16.7 million research and development centre specialising in new manufacturing and materials technologies, was approved by the city council’s planning committee earlier this week.
Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “There has been a good, collaborative effort across local leaders to arrive at this bid to Government, which is another exciting step forward for ARU Peterborough.
“We know Peterborough is a cold spot for skills at higher levels, which only increases the transformative impact this university will have on the city, the wider region and its people. This phase three building will significantly increase the capacity and scope of what ARU Peterborough can deliver for the region as well add a new, exciting dimension to the city’s cultural offer. This element is particularly relevant as I’m exploring the potential for Peterborough, Ely and Cambridge to be joint bidders for City of Culture 2025.
“Equipping people with the skills they need to secure rewarding careers matched to the needs of the local economy will reduce inequality and allow more people to share in opportunity and prosperity. These benefits are, to me, what levelling up is all about, and why I think we have made a strong case to Government.”
Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “The ARU Peterborough scheme was chosen as our preferred bid due to the positive long-term effect we know this will have on the city as a whole.
“By investing in education for our residents and developing the skills we know are needed by local businesses and the businesses of the future, we are investing in the long-term development of our city and the prosperity of coming generations.”
Paul Bristow, MP for Peterborough, said: “This bid is one that would benefit the whole city. The culture hub would drive tourism, bringing extra revenue. The new teaching building will assist in upskilling our residents, helping the long-term economic prosperity of both individuals and Peterborough as a whole.
“A successful Levelling Up Fund bid will turbo boost the investments of the Government’s Towns Fund and the new ARU Peterborough campus – further securing our aims of becoming one of the most important cities in the UK.”
Professor Ross Renton, principal of ARU Peterborough, said: “We are delighted that plans for additional teaching facilities, combined with much-needed public cultural spaces, have been chosen by Peterborough City Council to go forward for Levelling Up funding. We are now one step closer to securing this money for the people of Peterborough, allowing us to ‘level up’ the educational outcomes for young people in this region.
“We are already working closely with more than 100 businesses so that the curriculum for ARU Peterborough meets their needs, ensuring we will be educating students who find employment with local companies upon graduation. If selected by the Government, this funding will allow us to increase the number of students we teach each year, which in turn will further raise skill levels and provide a significant boost to the local economy.
“This is one of the most exciting developments in education in the country, a brand-new university co-created for the city and region, with a laser-like focus to transform the opportunities for the people and industries it serves. This vital next phase is an exemplar of levelling up and is likely to be replicated in other regions.”
Rebecca Stephens, member of the Business Board, said: “I’m very excited about the potential of the phase three of ARU Peterborough and I’m delighted the Business Board has been able to support this bid with funding.
“Forging strong connections with local businesses, connecting education directly with skills needs in the jobs market, will unlock even more of the economic potential of the city and its region.”