By Professor Guy Orpen Deputy Vice-Chancellor, New Campus Development
I was on Platform 15 at dawn recently, awaiting a train to London and was struck by the sight (see my phone’s take on this above). It must be the best part of 80 years since you could see the sun rise from that point in Bristol.
The Royal Mail Sorting Office has been reduced to rubble, now below the height of the platform, and the sun flooded in on a glorious May morning. Times are moving on at last, and the derelict eyesore is no more.
The past months have seen public consultation on the student residential village development to come on Temple Island as well as the masterplan for the University campus at Temple Quarter. This is the forerunner to the full planning applications which will go to the City Council in the months ahead.
The consultations were as ever a mix of the challenging and the heartening. While not everyone yet likes the designs, others strongly welcomed their quality and ambition – and the University clearly wants our students to enjoy living in them and thrive while doing so.
Also of interest is the development of the public spaces on the campus. They will be particularly important to those who want to go to and from Temple Meads from the east.
Network Rail is planning an eastern entrance to the station to support the growing number of people using it. To do so without adding disruption to rail traffic is no small matter – but they have a plan!
While this entrance will be a key asset for the university community in Temple Quarter, it will be even more important for the city’s communities to the east in St Phillips, Barton Hill and along Feeder Rd.
The public spaces around the buildings on the campus are substantial. Overall, they will be similar in size to those in nearby Queen Square – albeit with more waterside and less open grass. They are intended to be both welcoming and practical – and enhance both the biodiversity and safety of the area.
That adds up to a challenge to the design team – but they have come up with some interesting approaches. The detail of the buildings is still to come, but they too are intended to present a welcoming face, contribute to our city’s sustainability, as well as marking the entrance to the city.
Another point of debate in the consultation was the public-facing services on the campus from shops to surgeries. The intent from the University side is that we align our interests with those of local communities and do not seek to provide everything on the University-owned land.
We want to ensure there is child care provision, a local supermarket, sports facilities, GP and dental surgeries etc, nearby but not on the campus. I hope that demand for these facilities from local residents, coupled with that from University staff and students, can be harnessed to make them available for the good of all involved. Let’s see if we can work together to make it so!