Castle Meadow Campus – accelerating our ambitions, lowering our costs

November 22nd, 2021

Following University Council approval, the university has completed the purchase of the Castle Meadow site to provide a new campus in Nottingham city centre at the foot of the city’s historically significant castle.

The acquisition of the campus presents an exciting opportunity for the university to: accelerate the delivery of improved accommodation for academic staff; realise important aspects of its civic mission; and develop a professionally-orientated campus that will enhance provision for student placements and business engagement.

All of these ambitions can now be realised in an environmentally sustainable way, more quickly and at a lower cost than was originally planned before the Castle Meadow site became available.

Key uses for the new campus

Detailed plans for the new campus will be discussed with colleagues across our university community in a series of conversations across the year, although a number of likely core uses for the new campus have already been identified:

  • a new city centre location for Nottingham University Business School to conduct teaching, research and partnership activity, enabling it to grow its postgraduate offer and increase collaboration with strategic partners.
  • a home for Digital Nottingham to provide an innovation hub – creating a research and knowledge exchange programme in AI, data science and FinTech in partnership with industry – that will deliver lasting benefit for the city’s economy, and potentially provide a base for some 500 researchers in these fields.
  • a practice-based campus for final year and postgraduate students, creating an ecosystem of employers and students to work and learn together, ultimately preparing our students for life after university. A number of employers have already expressed interest in being housed on the campus, which would also generate significant annual rental income to re-invest in staff, students and research.

Accelerating ambitions, lowering costs

Before the opportunity to acquire the Castle Meadow site arose, the university had planned new buildings for the Business School at a cost of some £50 million, opening in 2026, and for Digital Nottingham at a cost of £65 million, opening in 2024. Plans for these new buildings can now be replaced by facilities on the Castle Meadow campus, acquired at a cost of £37.5 million with an estimated £45 million refurbishment cost over the first 10 years – and available for initial use from 2023.

The relocation of the Business School to Castle Meadow can create opportunities to reimagine the university’s existing campuses and consider their use for improved co-location of research, teaching and support facilities. Over the coming months a governance team, led by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Andy Long, will ask staff and students to contribute their ideas for deciding the best future of the university estate and the experience offered to those who use it.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West said:

“Opening an additional UK campus is an investment in our staff and students, and an expression of confidence in the future of both the University and the city of Nottingham. It enables us to accelerate existing plans to improve teaching and research space for staff, deliver our civic mission and make dedicated provision for professional practice-based courses – more quickly and at a lower cost than was originally planned.

“It enhances opportunities for collaboration with local business, industry and small businesses, making it easier for partners to engage with us and develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships, and make a positive difference for the city, while offering the best of facilities for staff and students.”

A focus on sustainability

The Castle Meadow Campus extends to 3.75 hectares, housing accommodation of approximately 32,500 square metres comprised of seven buildings including a health and wellbeing facility which could be developed further to provide amenities for staff and students.

The open nature of the interiors will enable research, teaching and learning together across different academic disciplines, where the style of teaching determines the space rather than the space determining the style of teaching. The site is in a part of the city that is undergoing significant investment, surrounded by new student accommodation developments, and landmark buildings such as Nottingham Castle, Nottingham Archive, Unity Square and the Nottingham Law Court.

Artists impressions below

The University Strategy places a special emphasis on environmental sustainability and supporting the city’s ambitions to become net zero carbon by 2028. Making use of existing buildings rather than creating new ones is a significantly more sustainable solution.

The Castle Meadow development was ahead of its time when it was constructed in the early 1990s, as it integrated a wide range of sustainable measures that were innovative for the period. Reusing these buildings, even after adaptation, means that the CO2 expended will be a fraction of that from a new building and significantly below the targets now set by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The Castle Meadow site itself is an attractive green space, with easy access to the train station and the cycle paths of the Nottingham Canal, offering sustainable, accessible and safe transport routes for staff, students and visitors.

Colleagues will be invited to consultation and engagement events over the coming months, and can sign up to receive alerts when opportunities become available.

New web pages have been published which will be home to information on the campus as it becomes available, including video walkthroughs of the site, artists’ impressions, consultation opportunities, a communications archive and regularly-updated FAQs.

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