Is UCLan a good thing or a bad thing for Preston?

Posted on - 30th April, 2018 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Preston News, Redevelopment, UCLan, University campus
UCLan has been raising its international ranking Pic: Tony Worrall

Preston’s university has seen major ongoing developments in the city as work continues on UCLan’s Masterplan.

With £200m transformation plans for the Preston Campus, UCLan‘s vision is to transform it into an attractive, inviting, and world-class campus by 2020.

The plans include four major projects; The Student Centre and New Square, The Engineering Innovation Centre, The Social Spaces and the Oasis: Faith and Spirituality Centre.

UCLan aim to integrate their new campus with the rest of the City, to benefit current and future generations of students, staff, visitors and the wider community.

But has the development gone too far, or not far enough? Is UCLan a good or bad thing for Preston? We have taken a look at Preston’s reaction:

Adelphi Square Plan:

UCLan’s Adelphi Square plan has been given approval for one of the biggest developments in Preston’s history.

How the new Adelphi roundabout would look, with the new student centre in the background
How the new Adelphi roundabout would look, with the new student centre in the background

The £60m project was given the green light by Preston City Council’s planning committee, enabling the complete remodeling of the Adelphi roundabout and the creation of a new flagship student centre building.

Here’s how our readers responded to the project:

John Swindells said: “There were only five objectors to the scheme. Galloway’s and another organisation representing the blind and partially sighted were two of the objectors. To address their concerns, a planning condition requiring controlled crossings was added.”

Robert Graham said: “It’s good for city, it brings more development into the city and obviously the opposing points must not have been significant enough to stop it. And to the people complaining about traffic in the area, I am in that area every week and I haven’t seen enough traffic jams or congestion to say that the development of that roundabout will cause major major problems.”

Clair Wellard said: “It could be the best plan in the world but the question still stands – where will all the traffic go? All main roads are already at breaking point at rush hour, during school run, at PNE games. With any new development, the bigger picture needs to be adjusted too.”

Jeremy Rowlands said: “Why are people wanting to save an unfriendly, ugly 1960s traffic gyratory brought to Preston by the very same planners that designed The Ringway and wanted to run a dual carriageway across Avenham Park, with a Multistory car park on Winckley Square? Surely a new public square to be used by the whole city with public realm improvements throughout the whole area is better?”

Claydon King said: “Have you seen it in rush hour? It’s going to be horrendous. One lane each way on the road space that sometimes needs three? It’s hardly an improvement. What a mess it will cause. All this about creating a positive atmosphere and learning space drive doesn’t benefit anyone other then people who are there for few years. The people who live here have to suffer. It’s pathetic, adding more time to our journey home. You don’t see Liverpool John Moores University or University of Liverpool wanting to create shared spaces. Why the obsession with ‘shared space’ in Preston and reducing capacity on existing roads?”

Leona Mae Marsh said: “This looks brilliant and will be great for the area.”

UCLan’s Chief Operating Officer:

Michael Ahern is UCLan’s Chief Operating Officer and has been involved with much of the planning for the UCLan Masterplan.

Michael said: “We want to build high quality buildings and something that will last for the next 50 years in Preston. The basis of the masterplan is to open up the university and provide an open, accessible space that brings the community and students together. We don’t actually want to attract more students, we’re happy with how many students we have now. We understand how big changes can be worrying but we want people to have a voice. You’re welcome to tell us what you think.

“The plans have already been dramatically considered and adapted based on feedback we’ve had from worldwide professionals, communities, pedestrians, cyclists, visually impaired people, local councilors and it’s been to planning committee where locals have a voice. We like to hear views and ideas we want to take hold of. Plans have already changed along the way due to input. We don’t want people to dislike it. We want people to like it.

“We want to be respectful of Preston’s past and future. We have to take care of it. We want the university and city working well together, so that students can become a part of the community, and we want the economy to be as strong as it can be.”

This is what the new public square will look like on what was the Adelphi roundabout
This is what the new public square will look like on what was the Adelphi roundabout

With regards to the traffic concerns, Michael described how UCLan can’t solve all the problems: “We won’t save all the problems, but there are problems now. The current traffic doesn’t work.”

Read more: Sunday shutdown for Adelphi roundabout as work begins

Former UCLan employee:

A former UCLan employee, who asked not to be named, said: “My main feeling about the UClan ‘Master plan’ is that it fails to address the unconnected and rather intrusive nature of UCLan property in Preston. The institution seems to be to becoming introverted and disconnected from the city: it is in Preston, but not of it.

“For example, the former Arts Centre in St Peter’s Church had a thriving public role putting on many concerts, exhibitions, gigs, drama and other events. It was very popular locally. There was always something interesting happening at the Arts Centre. But it was closed, the public were kept out.

“The Mitchell & Kenyon cinema in the Foster Building has also closed. There hardly seems to be any art gallery role. The public aren’t really welcome on campus which is soulless. There are, for example, few or perhaps no benches for the public to sit on. It’s all grey, grey, grey.

“Edge Hill Uni, for example, has a public art trail, attractive planting and an active programme of staging events. Edge Hill staged the centenary events celebrating the famous woman Lancashire surrealist artist Leonora Carrington; UCLan did nothing. Lubiana Himid, a professor at UCLan, has just been awarded the Turner Prize. What has UClan done to celebrate this? One thing that it is doing is to demolish the terraced house on St Peter’s Square where her Centre for Art and part of her archive is located. Can you imagine Lancaster doing that?

“The demolition of a charming row of terraced house along St Peter’s Square is another act of anti-social development. These are the few remaining early nineteenth century artisan cottages left in the city and they complement the Grade II listed St Peter’s. But they are to demolished to make way for yet another lump of third-rate PFI development doubtless complete with an underused atrium.

“The quality of the recent architecture at UCLan is mundane and unexciting. No name architect are commissioned: it’s just boring block after block. The Media Factory is a tedious clad lump with the internal vibe of a category 2 prison. There’s no vision or style about the place: any old PFI block will do.

The Institute has always been used for educational uses Pic: Tony Worrall
The Institute has always been used for educational uses Pic: Tony Worrall

“UCLan got rid of its Avenham Institute which it had used since the 1840s. It still stands unsold and empty. Something creative and adventurous could surely be done with this? But it doesn’t ‘fit’ the property portfolio profile so they got rid of it.”

What do you think about the UCLan Masterplan? Is UCLan a good or bad thing for Preston? Let us know in the comments below

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