The University Executive Committee is responsible for all matters associated with the development and management of the university.
Last updated: 14 June 2022
Enabler / Pillar: Estates
This Estates Strategy has been written to respond to the University’s Strategic Plan 2022-2027. It picks up the key challenges as they relate to the University’s property portfolio and the facilities services provided. A key theme is the need to accommodate the planned growth, which has led to the establishment of the City Campus and other capital works. Also essential is optimising the quality of experience of facilities users. Proposals to enhance maintenance regimes and for the creation of spaces that will both attract students on to campus and encourage them to stay (so called ‘magnet’ and ‘sticky’ spaces) are included. Also proposed are a more focussed approach to designing for health & well-being and to enhancing customer service. Environmental sustainability will be delivered through the Carbon Net Zero roadmap, renewal of the Sustainable Travel Plan and review of other operations. The civic contribution that will be made through the City Campus development is highlighted. The strategy emphasises the necessity of operating in a resource efficient way, making best use of the facilities available, deploying effective procedures and utilising appropriate technologies. Finally, key performance indicators are identified.
Growth in student numbers is a core theme of the Strategic & Ambition Plans. The pace of growth planned will create a deficit of usable space calculated to reach 11,700m2 by September 2027.
An options appraisal was carried out as part of the Ambition Plan looking at the feasibility of increasing the capacity of the existing estate by extending teaching and working hours, blended and digital delivery, agile working and repurposing of space. Whilst all of these factors have the potential to deliver future benefits it was judged that they could not provide sufficient additional capacity to accommodate the planned growth profile.
Possible scenarios for expansion of the estate were generated and tested. The analysis concluded that acquisition of additional property with the potential for refurbishment and conversion was the most viable solution. Shortly after the review was completed the former Debenhams site in Gloucester city centre was acquired. This will provide sufficient total floor area to meet future space requirements for 2027 and beyond once works have been completed.
There is also a need to enable immediate growth for all schools through the life of this strategy but particularly for the academic year 22/23 when there will be no increase in total space. A key challenge going forward will be matching the phasing of development to student number growth to ensure sufficient capacity, balanced against the need to remain operationally resource and carbon efficient. Locating facilities to minimise disruption, and avoid dilution of communities when Schools are operating across multiple sites, will also be important.
To provide the capacity to accommodate growth whilst remaining operationally effective, resource efficient and within financial targets.
Deliver the City Campus development to time, cost and quality targets.
The first phase of the City Campus development relates to approximately half of the total floor area spread over basement, ground and first floor. It is planned to commence in spring/summer 2022 and be completed for occupation by autumn 2023. The remainder of the building will be developed in a second phase to be occupied from 2027.
Deliver the Capital Programme of remodelling and space reallocation.
In order to maximise the additionality of the floor space, full use needs to be made of the space vacated, firstly at the Oxstalls site and later at Francis Close Hall. To this end a supporting programme of capital remodelling and space reallocation within the existing campuses is planned for delivery over the lifetime of the development process.
Continue to carefully manage space efficiency and efficacy.
See the Efficient Delivery (below) for more detail.
Student’s expectations are evolving with an increasing emphasis on the importance of their overall experience and a movement towards consumerisation.
The quality of the student experience is one of the most critical elements of being a successful university. Higher ratings in student satisfaction surveys can lead to better placings within performance frameworks and comparison league tables. This should, in turn, create a competitive advantage for the institution in the recruitment of new students.
The Strategic Plan requires the creation and maintenance of physical environments and services that deliver excellent student and staff experiences by providing study, work and social facilities that meet the users’ needs, are enjoyable to use, and support students and staff to do their best work.
The environment and facilities need to act as a recruiting agent, being the physical brand of the University. They not only have to be in good condition and aesthetically attractive, but must also convey a sense of inspiration, excitement and opportunity. Student residences are an important element of this equation. The Accommodation Strategy 2020-2025 identifies the importance of providing an “engaging and supportive environment which supports student well-being, encourages a sense of belonging and contributes to student success”. The current condition of the University’s assets is variable. Newer parts of the estate reflect an aspirational level of investment however there are elements that do not reach this standard.
The functional effectiveness of facilities is also a key issue. The requirements of both staff and students are in flux. The implementation of agile working together with the evolution of learning styles is creating uncertainty about the demand for different types of space. Campus facilities should both attract students to want to spend time there (act as a ‘magnet’) but also have the substance to encourage them to stay on-site outside of formal academic sessions (be ‘sticky’). Creating opportunities for the integration of informal study (both individual and collaborative), socialising and refreshment in a way that can be controlled by the users of the space should be a prioritised. This type of facility supports interaction and reinforces a sense of community.
In tandem with the deployment of alternative IT solutions, The Agile Working Initiative has given staff and their managers more freedom to determine the balance between home and office-based working. The resulting changes needed to both the nature and quantity of workstations is still being worked through. It is anticipated that this may mean a move towards a smaller number of more
highly specified and flexible workstations which are available on demand rather than permanently allocated. Staff will also benefit from sharing access to the ‘sticky’ spaces described above.
Students and staff are increasingly taking a more holistic approach to deciding where they want to study, live and work. Facilities and services that help promote health, well-being and lifestyle choice are of growing importance. The recent pandemic has intensified the focus on this both generally and within the workplace. Many aspects of managing health and well-being are in place. Safety, security, hygiene, fitness, nourishment and the internal & external environments are already well managed. In major development projects the application of BREEAM accreditation has meant that most of these facets have been addressed as part of certified sustainability assessments. There is however, a need for a framework that draws these different strands together.
Estates services are technically well managed, operationally coherent and broadly structured to meet customer needs. They are however designed primarily by service providers which can mean that standardisation, efficiency and technical correctness take priority over end user experience. There is also a need to ensure that services are delivered in a joined-up way. Therefore, there are opportunities to improve the experiential and interactive elements of services. The availability of services and facilities also needs to be reviewed to ensure that they are accessible, and delivered to a high standard, as and when there is a demand for them, subject to the resources available.
The increasing urgency with which society is trying to manage the environmental impacts of human activity will have a prominent and increasing influence on University operations.
The University has an outstanding reputation within the sector for its commitment to sustainability, however the operational reduction of carbon emissions is an area where performance could be improved. In their document ‘Carbon Net Zero Strategy 2021 – 2030’ the Sustainability Team has laid out a roadmap to achieving Carbon Net Zero that includes ten actions and interventions, more than half of which relate primarily to estate management and development. Part of the capital programme has been ring fenced to deliver related projects. These will reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and advance the transition from gas to electricity. The document also lays out design and operation principles for facilities which, if implemented, have the potential for very significant reductions in utility related emissions and costs. Both the projects and principles, when implemented, will have the added benefit of making the campus more attractive and consistent with the University’s espoused values. Contributing to the delivery of the roadmap is a cornerstone of the Estates Strategy. More detail on the rationale behind the roadmap priorities is provided within the Sustainability Strategy document.
Space management is vital to reducing the need for energy and carbon emissions. It is self-evident that maximising the utilisation of space to minimise the total quantity built, owned and operated is the cheapest and most effective approach to reducing resource use and the associated negative impacts.
Where the University has undertaken major building works it has operated a policy of applying the BREEAM framework. BREEAM is a sustainability assessment methodology for building design and construction. It is used to holistically evaluate all aspects of sustainability thereby reducing negative impacts, enhancing the well-being of users, protecting natural resources and safeguarding the future usability and value of buildings. The University undertakes to achieve a minimum BREEAM rating of excellent in all projects subject to assessment.
Energy and carbon savings are not the whole story with respect to environmental sustainability. Other operational issues need to be taken forward including biodiversity, recycling/re-use, management of water use, management of pollutants, procurement protocols, etc. Several issues link in to efficient delivery and health & well-being.
Sector leading sustainability both in developments and operations.
The University is an anchor institution for Gloucestershire embedded within Cheltenham and Gloucester. One of the five strategic goals is to promote the advancement of our community, with the intention of being a long-term force for good. There are many facets to this two-way relationship.
Course and research portfolios are influenced by, and respond to, the needs of the local labour market. Through these core activities the University is not only a provider of training and skills for the community but also supports, and benefits from the local workforce.
Support to businesses through the Growth Hub creates linkages and potential partnerships for the furtherance of the University’s enterprise and innovation activities.
Through its day to day operation and its substantial stream of capital investments the University both supports and benefits from accommodation provision, travel infrastructure, and a plethora of other local supply chains.
Selected University facilities are made available for the use and benefit of the local community. Engagement and active citizenship of staff and students are also encouraged. Both types of activity help to reinforce community links and present opportunities for collaborations with local partners.
To promote the advancement of our community
HEI’s are experiencing a financially challenging environment with restricted fee levels, reduced levels of funding, increasing costs associated with maintaining University status and a growing risk of price inflation driven by a conflagration of economic and societal challenges on a worldwide scale.
Efficient delivery is not only a financial concept but also relates directly to efficient use of resources and therefore environmental sustainability.
Space management and its effective integration with related functions is critical in ensuring that development and refurbishment works are efficiently planned but also that currently underutilised spaces are identified and repurposed or disposed of. Changing pedagogy will have repercussions for the type, size and quantity of spaces required. Agile working and teaching supported by virtual and augmented reality technologies are likely to grow. This may also provide opportunities to further enhance face to face learning experiences. Space management is a core function that impacts in a multi-faceted way on estates strategy and operation. Balance has to be achieved between many different drivers and the associated risks including operational effectiveness, user experience and resource efficiency.
The quantity and configuration of spaces are one key determinant of space utilisation. Other critical factors are maximizing the proportion of flexible, shared spaces, reducing timetabling complexity and changes in culture and working practices. To make progress a holistic, cross departmental, approach is required.
Estates has a good track record of practical implementation of technology but there will be a need for more intelligent building management systems. As the University grows so will the requirement for more data and system control to improve the efficiency of energy use and the user experience. One of the most significant facilities based financial risks is the price inflation that is currently gripping utilities markets. Minimising the consumption of fossil fuels through efficiency improvements has many positive outcomes one of which is enhanced operational efficiency.
Reductions in carbon emissions will also be achieved.
The University’s expenditure on capital development and maintenance, as a proportion of academic income, was one of the lowest in the sector in 2019/20. Arguably this reflects an enviable level of
efficiency however it also increases the risk of disruption to operations and user experience if it leads to reliance on outdated plant and equipment. Care is required to strike the correct balance of prudence and efficacy. A related issue is ensuring that procurement processes are delivering best value for money.
The two agreed KPIs to be included in the Strategic Plan relate to building condition and carbon reduction.
|Proportion of space with a condition rating of A&B||> Not to fall below 81%|
Tonnes of CO2 emissions – Scope 1
|> 33% reduction from 18/19 baseline of 1,025 tonnes by 2027|
Estates will also measure, manage and benchmark performance in the areas of space management, functional suitability, energy use, contractor performance and operating cost.
|FinancialProperty Costs per m2 NIA||> To remain below £130/m2 adjusted for inflation, for the duration of the plan.|
|4) Space Management|
|GIA per staff/student FTE||> Less than or equal to 7.0 m2|
|Utilisation rate||> Greater than or equal to 28%|
|FunctionalityProportion of space in functionality ratings 1&2||> Greater than 80%|
|SustainabilityKWh of Gas used||>32% reduction from 18/19 baseline by 2027|
|Contracts generallyPerformance against contract SLA||> To match or exceed the agreed target threshold for specific contracts.|
Estates will investigate suitable methodologies for measuring the effectiveness of sticky campus initiatives as and when they are implemented.