GROUNDHOG DAYS
Jubilee Campus Master Plan Fiasco 2004 to University Framework 2020
 

The consultation by Nottingham University's Estates on a 20-year framework for development of its (UK) campuses ended on 9 February 2020, and the Lenton & Wollaton East Ward public meeting is scheduled for Monday 17 February. So, it seemed appropriate to remind myself, and whoever reads this, of the 2004 Jubilee Campus Master Plan consultation. An article from the Summer 2005 NAG Magazine encapsulates the reaction to it.

In 2004, it was almost the first experience the NAG had of consultations - and their outcomes. Perhaps it should have provided a salutory lesson about use of time, energy and investment in hope. This article in the Summer 2005 NAG Magazine encapsulates the reaction at that time to it. As I read it again now, I recognise it as the first of many groundhog days experienced since then, and the many disappointments and frustrations associated with them.


JUBILEE CAMPUS MASTER PLAN FIASCO:
Thoughts of a Participant


Last summer the Nottingham Action Group heard on the grapevine that a ‘master plan’ was being prepared for the further development of the former Raleigh site and its surroundings on Triumph Road for the University of Nottingham. After significant ‘encouragement’ the Planning Department agreed to allow the Nottingham Action Group an input into the consultation. 

The Council officer with special responsibility for the Master Plan came along to the Group’s September Committee meeting to discuss the Plan. In a nutshell it involved the complete redevelopment of the area between Ilkeston Road and Derby Road, with minor exceptions, such as the Rose and Crown and the Three Wheatsheaves — obviously vital infrastructure for any university campus! 

The Officer was persuaded that a wider public consultation exercise than might have been planned originally should take place. As a result, an open meeting, at which the same officer and colleagues gave a presentation, was organised by the Nottingham Action Group. This took place in October. 

The meeting was very well attended. Many local residents, as well as owners of small businesses in the area, were keen to comment on various aspects of the plan such as the location of student accommodation in the north, on the site of Imperial Tobacco's Bonded Warehouse and the Transco site with its familiar gasometers. In particular, it was felt there would be less impact on residents if the accommodation was placed in the middle of the site. There was also concern about areas of ‘mixed use’ in the section to the east of the site around the Three Wheatsheaves, as well as the scale and density of the developments. 

People put their views, both verbally and in writing, to the planners and we felt the consultation had been very successful. 

In December we heard that the plans had been passed by the Development Control Committee without amendment. Apparently our lily-livered Councillors didn't feel able to change the plans due to the generosity of the University who were paying for the development! 

What a fiasco. 

Since then we have witnessed a flurry of activity with Unite applying for permission to construct bed spaces for a total of 480 students (with no doubt more to follow) to the rear of the Three Wheatsheaves in the area of mixed use about which there was so much concern. 

Members of the Nottingham Action Group have opposed these developments but to no avail, since student accommodation there is now part of the Master Plan. 

The City Council really has got to realise we will no longer accept these sham consultations. We all wasted valuable time and effort (as well as money for the room bookings, etc.) in good faith. 

It's about time they put some faith in our views about what is needed for local people before the whole city becomes a campus extension. 

SHAM(E) OR MISSED OPPORTUNITY?

It is difficult not to feel anything other than disappointment and frustration that none of the thoughtful and practical ideas put forward during the consultation meeting were included in the final draft of the Plan. It’s no wonder the whole sorry tale leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth and a reluctance to go through another such experience. 

So was it a sham, or a missed opportunity? Most of it is the University’s land and clearly the University wants to develop it in a way that suits its aims. It is also clear that reserving the land for academic use is also what the City Council wants since the area was designated for that purpose in the Local Plan. It is not clear why the Council involved itself in a ‘Master Plan’ at all. Or how much control it had on the final Plan. If it was in control, the consultation was a missed opportunity. If it was not, the consultation was a sham 

What is shameful is that the only piece of land on the whole of the Jubilee site the University is prepared to set aside for a ‘student village’ is an area it does not control and is not likely to in the foreseeable future, viz. the warehouse and the Transco site. 

It is clear the University’s priority lies in the Sports Centre it is now building on the site and the ‘International Square’ it intends to place on the site. 

It does not see as a priority the need for it to set an example by providing exciting, innovative ‘village-like’ accommodation on its own land for the young people it brings here. For a university proud of its reputation, both here and overseas, and quick to advertise its successes, this is a missed opportunity which it may, and neighbourhoods like the Wollaton Park Estate certainly will, regret in the future. 

Meantime, it will ‘... continue to carefully consider it strategies on student accommodation ... .’ Our neighbourhoods can’t afford to wait until it has!