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Outline planning application process starts to provide vision for transformative new University Quarter for Peterborough


Outline planning application process starts to provide vision for transformative new University Quarter for Peterborough

A process to gain outline planning consent for an attractive new University Quarter at the north of the Embankment site in Peterborough has started.

The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority, in collaboration with ARU Peterborough, the new university for the city, are seeking the consent to provide a planning framework to guide development of future phases of the University. It will provide the overall planning vision for ARU Peterborough as a new University Quarter, which will include teaching and research buildings and an interactive science facility.

The development of ARU Peterborough and the broader University Quarter is a partnership between the Combined Authority, Peterborough City Council and Anglia Ruskin University.

As an initial part of this outline planning application (OPA) process, the Combined Authority has this week submitted a scoping report to the Peterborough City Council (PCC) as the Local Planning Authority (LPA). The report outlines the proposed scope of the environmental assessment that needs to be carried out in order to determine the extent of the effects on the environment resulting from the development of the University Quarter. The LPA’s response will then shape the development of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which in turn analyses in detail those effects. The EIA, which will be subject to consultation, will then form part of the Outline Planning Application (OPA) for the University, currently anticipated for submission in February 2022.

The OPA will link in with Peterborough City Council’s masterplan work for the whole of the Embankment, which incorporates the university site at the north end adjacent to Bishop’s Road. The Masterplan is one of ten projects in Peterborough City Council’s Towns Fund Investment Plan.

The two authorities will work together on the plans with the aim of maximising the opportunity for the city to have a new, attractive asset which will have a regenerative effect and benefit residents, visitors and businesses as well as the students themselves. This summer the Combined Authority approved £100,000 in funding as a contribution to PCC to develop the £300,000 Embankment masterplan as part of its collaborative working with the city.

The first phase of the University development has already started on site and is planned to open its first building to 2,000 students in September 2022.

The phase two Manufacturing and Materials Research and Development Centre, part of a joint venture with Peterborough business Photocentric, will see its construction complete in December 2022. Phase three will see the expansion of teaching facilities as well as a publicly assessable University Quarter Cultural Hub and ‘Living Lab’ science facility. This phase is the subject of a £20 million funding bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, with a decision expected later this year.

The OPA will make provision for a future expanded campus to accommodate additional university teaching space, innovation and research facilities, built in phases, on a site of about 13 hectares. The scoping report identifies several areas for assessment of environmental impacts including landscape and heritage, biodiversity, social and economic impacts, transport and access and air quality.

Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said

“This University outline planning process is at an early stage, but it will help ensure that the long term planning and development of the ARU Peterborough site matches our aspiration to deliver a really fantastic new asset not just for students, but for the whole city.

“Ensuring ARU Peterborough is well planned will support its core mission to tackle unfairness and change lives, addressing the fact the city is in the bottom 10 per cent for skill levels in the UK.

“Boosting skills will be a lever for opportunities for great careers, more growth and investment from business, and to provide people in Peterborough and the region with a step-change in aspirations, life chances, health and wellbeing.

“These are big ambitions but we are confident in our approach. ARU Peterborough is different because it will directly respond to the needs of local employers, who are already playing a role as co-creators of the curriculum. In turn, the university will give people the skills they need to support local business and thrive in a growing local economy.”

Professor Ross Renton, Principal of ARU Peterborough, said:

“The new university will not only have a transformative effect on those studying with us, but it will be an open campus that the whole community can explore and enjoy.

“The University Quarter will include an interactive ‘Living Lab’ science facility, which will be open to the public. We believe it is important for the future of the city that the new university has space to flourish and develop cutting edge facilities, whilst ensuring there are high quality green spaces available to everyone.  We are determined that ARU Peterborough will be a fantastic addition to the city.”

Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, Leader of Peterborough City Council and Combined Authority Deputy Mayor, said:

“A university quarter could be a huge development for our city’s future and as it’s important that this is aligned with the city’s future expansion. It is encouraging that this will be linked to the city council’s own masterplan for the Embankment area, which is just a short walk from the university site.”