Lancaster skyscraper to go as part of university's redevelopment

Lancaster's skyline is set to change dramatically with the demolition and replacement of major buildings at the University of Cumbria's Bowerham campus.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 21st September 2020, 3:45 pm
William Thompson Hall at the University of Cumbria in Lancaster.
William Thompson Hall at the University of Cumbria in Lancaster.

Its distinctive nine-storey skyscraper is to go, along with other student residences.

William Thompson Hall, erected more than 50 years ago for St Martin's College on the site of the former Bowerham Barracks, will come down and in its place will be built a seven-storey student accommodation block of flats.

Other buildings to be demolished include Sarah Witham Thompson, Gressingham and Melling Halls, the Black Box Theatre, Dining Room and Long Corridor. The Art Studio will be converted.

In their place will be a four-storey extra-care residential building for the elderly.

Barbon and Hornby Halls will be converted to “affordable” residential apartments.

A two-storey supported living unit will be built off Coulston Road, consisting of 13 apartments, mostly for wheelchair-users.

The developments are part of the university's plan to redesign the campus to improve student accommodation and provide community facilities.

The landmark William Thompson Hall, affectionately known on campus as the “Willy Tom,” was named after a Burnley millionaire philanthropist, who provided its £50,000 basic cost after an approach from the college's founder-principal Dr Hugh Pollard OBE.

William's sister Sarah Witham Thompson gave £15,000 for the hall named after her.

The college welcomed its first students in 1964, at the same time as Lancaster University, and was officially opened by the Queen Mother in 1967. As Queen Elizabeth, she and her husband, George VI, visited Bowerham Barracks in 1940 during the Second World War.

St Martin's College became part of the University of Cumbria in 2007.

Kate McLaughlin-Flynn, the university's director of finance and resources, said: “The objectives of our strategy are to deliver enough of the right type of space and services, available at the right times, in the right condition, at sustainable financial and environmental cost.

“Many of the older buildings are in poor condition, not suitable for modern teaching or empty.”

Representations over the planning applications should be made to Lancaster City Council within the next week.

City councillors have shared residents' concerns about speeding, parking and volume of traffic, which may result from the university plans.

Couns Erica Lewis, Faye Penny and Alistair Sinclair, of John o'Gaunt ward, have highlighted that any increase will be a problem and a positive contribution from the university to traffic-calming and safety will be welcome.

Deadline for comments is Thursday October 1. They are being received by the council's Development Management Team, who can answer queries on 01524 582950.