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University of Cumbria.
University of Cumbria.
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With reference to the recent letter published in the Lancaster Guardian: Questions over Uni sell-off (July 31), I would like to clarify the position to your readers.

Parking –

The purpose of the consultation exercise is to provide an opportunity for local residents to have a say in the emerging masterplan. This consultation is the start of the process and we have engaged with the local community at the earliest opportunity. The feedback we receive will be reflected upon carefully and presented in a Statement of Consultation in the autumn. The document will be made available on the university’s website.

To date, feedback has been broadly supportive of our intention to invest in new campus facilities although the issue of parking has been raised by a number of residents. The official parking numbers set out in the draft masterplan are: 530 spaces currently provided on the campus plus an overspill car park which provides 33 spaces.

The proposed masterplan provides 399 car parking spaces with an option to expand the overspill car park (33 spaces) by an additional 54 spaces giving a total of 486 spaces.

The university now has planning permission to make the temporary car park permanent. Once this car park has been white-lined (currently a temporary surface) an additional 20 spaces will be provided making the total onsite provision 506.

The university’s travel plan provides the over-arching strategic direction for transport and commuting at the university. A summary of targets produced for the Lancaster campus are as follows:

Increase cycling to the campus through better quality cycle parking (there are currently 200 cycle spaces on campus), student cycle loan scheme, better cycle connectivity and increased promotion.

Increase bus use through promotional efforts.

Increase car share and use of low emission vehicles.

Reduce percentage of people parking off campus including introducing salary sacrifice to make it even more affordable for staff to park on site. We are also investigating more flexible options for students to encourage more of them to park on the campus.

The travel plan sets out the university’s strategy to reduce the number of private cars coming to the campus. This is a matter the university takes seriously and parking is an issue under continuous review. We are exploring other options in relation to car parking on site with a view to increasing the number of available spaces to at least the current levels.

Sale of surplus land –

The masterplan identifies an area of the campus that is no longer required by the university. The reader will note that the purpose of the investment in the campus is to create an estate which is fit for purpose and of a size which reflects academic requirement.

Like other higher education institutions, the university has too much space brought about primarily by changes in technology. Implementation of the masterplan will see a reduction in space of circa 9,000m2 to ensure the campus remains a commercially viable institution.

The university simply cannot waste resource funding mothballed buildings – resource should be spent on the student experience therefore a suitable alternative use for the land/buildings must be found. The masterplan looks at possible uses which could be accommodated within the surplus estate.

A small format convenience store has been included for consideration and is subject to approval by Lancaster City Council. Large retail development in this location is not proposed, and is prevented in any case by Local and National Planning Policy.

Just over 10 per cent of the campus has been identified as surplus to requirement. All proceeds made from the sale of surplus estate will be reinvested back into the campus by the university in modern facilities for its students.

Consultation process –

The consultation program was set to ensure the exhibition (July 18/19) was held before the school holidays began on July 23 thereby trying to avoid the main summer holiday period. As advertised, the exhibition boards remained in the university’s Gateway building and online for the duration of the consultation exercise to ensure as many people as possible were given the opportunity to view and comment at this initial stage.

Janet Whitworth

Chief Operating Officer.