A LUCRATIVE multi-million pound masterplan has been unveiled by the University of Portsmouth to transform prospects and health in the city, The News can reveal.
The centre of the vision is the creation of a state-of-the-art business school on the former Victoria Baths site, in Anglesea Road, which will include lecture theatres and teaching spaces.
New facilities will help to attract a high calibre of students who we would hope will remain in Portsmouth after graduation to further their careers.Maureen Frost, deputy chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce
And a new sports centre in the Cambridge Road car park area, including an eight-court sports hall, an eight-lane swimming pool, 150 fitness stations and two studios, is also under consideration in the university’s plan to expand over the next 25 years.
The centre would be available to students, staff and the local community.
The development in Anglesea Road, hailed by business leaders as a major step forward in the push to attract talented students to the region, marks the end of troubled proposals to build a 330ft ‘blade’ tower for 600 students to live in on the land.
Concerns over safety and a row over whether the £30m accommodation would include fire sprinklers meant the plan never got off the ground.
The Victoria Baths were demolished in 2010.
Maureen Frost, deputy chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, is delighted by the proposals.
She said: ‘There is a two-fold benefit here. We, of course, welcome the focus on boosting business and enterprise.
‘New facilities will help to attract a high calibre of students who we would hope will remain in Portsmouth after graduation to further their careers.
‘At the same time, we’d be delighted to see the development of the old Victoria Baths site. This is a key, high-profile location in the city centre which has been lying vacant for several years and its rejuvenation would be excellent news.’
Ravelin Park, part of the university’s campus, could also be used to create a centre for student activities.
It is hoped the Victoria Baths plan will enable the university to ‘unlock’ other parts of its estate for building projects.
The full masterplan will be revealed in the summer.
University vice-chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith said: ‘The Estates masterplan will set out the university’s vision for campus developments over the next 25 years.
‘This will involve significant investment in our city and will secure the future success of the university as a key employer and contributor to economic prosperity.
‘We are developing a plan which will ensure the university remains vibrant, accessible and successful.
‘Our aim is that all new and redeveloped buildings will meet the challenges and expectations of tomorrow’s staff and students and help secure the university’s excellent ranking in the UK and internationally.’
To meet demand for more space, the university will also be planning some ‘short-term improvements’, including the refurbishment of Mercantile House in Hampshire Terrace.
Portsmouth Tory planning, regeneration and economic development boss, Councillor Luke Stubbs, said: ‘The university is a key economic driver in the city, and the investments it is making in upgrading and expanding the university is very welcome.
‘A new business school would strengthen the university brand.’