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University unveils vision for growth in Gloucester

The University of Gloucestershire has announced ambitious plans to work with partners to develop facilities for higher education, business services and sport in Gloucester.

The University’s Oxstalls Campus, which is already home to The Growth Hub, would become the new base for the University’s Business School. This would see the School relocated from the Park Campus in Cheltenham, bringing business education, economic development and business services under one roof. This would represent the next major step for the University, working with the GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership, to integrate the Business School with The Growth Hub and expand its teaching, research and knowledge exchange activities, creating a strong centre for business support, innovation and enterprise in the county.

At the same time, the University proposes to invest with partners in sporting facilities for the benefit of students and the community. Working with the City and County Councils and a range of sporting bodies, (including Aspire Sports & Cultural Trust which manages the Oxstalls Sports Park and Tennis Centre), the University is looking to link together and expand the sporting facilities available on Oxstalls Campus, Oxstalls Sports Park (including Plock Court playing fields) and the school playing fields at Bishops College.

The masterplan envisages linking and integrating the Oxstalls and Plock Court facilities, with better landscaping and improved community access.

The University and City and County Councils are now looking at how to create a comprehensive masterplan to guide the development of the area, covering:

• Oxstalls Campus • Debenhams Playing Fields (now purchased by the University)

• Plock Court Playing Fields

• Oxstalls Sports Park

• School playing fields on the former Bishops College site

• Estcourt Park Allotments

Associated highways improvements to support the development, including parking requirements, would also need to be considered.

A steering group has been formed with representatives from Gloucester City Council, which owns the Estcourt Park Allotments and Plock Court playing fields, Aspire, which manages the Oxstalls Sports Park and Tennis Centre, and Gloucestershire County Council, which owns the former playing fields on the Bishops College site, as well as the University. A representative stakeholder group will also be formed to discuss the impact of redevelopment, including ward councillors, local residents and allotment holders.

Vice-Chancellor Stephen Marston said: “As a University we are committed to supporting the growth and wellbeing of the City of Gloucester. The University has a thriving campus at Oxstalls, with a wide range of teaching, research, knowledge exchange and sporting activities. But there is huge potential to do more in the interests of the City and the County, as well as our students and staff. We know that by attracting more students to the City and improving our services to local businesses, we can make a greater contribution to economic growth.

“Creating a new and expanded home for our Business School, integrated with The Growth Hub, in Gloucester would transform our ability to give our students an outstanding experience and to work with our partners to support business. Our plans to grow our Oxstalls Campus complement the recent announcements by the City and County Councils for the redevelopment of the Blackfriars/Quayside site in Gloucester, which could include new student accommodation. We are excited by the opportunities, and look forward to working with the Councils, the LEP, local residents and the wider community to turn the vision into reality.”

Dr Diane Savory OBE, Chair of GFirst LEP, said: “By working together, GFirst LEP and the University have attracted millions of pounds of investment from Government to provide services, through The Growth Hub, to local businesses. With this investment, we can create a dynamic and thriving centre where students and business work side by side and help deliver on our commitment to create new businesses and grow jobs.”

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “We have set out bold plans to put Gloucester on the map as a vibrant city. Bringing more university students to the City is key to realising this vision. We are excited by the University’s plans for its Oxstalls campus and want to work together to see what part the playing fields on the Bishops College site could play in improving sports facilities for the community.”

Cllr Paul James, Leader of Gloucester City Council, said: “The University’s plans add further momentum to the announcements we made for Blackfriars earlier this month. They are a welcome addition to the other projects we have to boost economic growth and improve facilities for the community in Gloucester. Clearly there are complex and potentially sensitive issues that need to be addressed as we develop our joint plans and we will work closely with residents and other stakeholders.”

Public drop-in sessions which will allow people to give their feedback on the overall vision for the sites will be held on Oxstalls campus between 4pm and 7pm on 14 and 15 April.