A £400m scheme that will reshape a large swathe of Portsmouth is ready to take a step forward – and work could start this year.
The University of Portsmouth has plans to construct a new 20-storey building in Victoria Park, demolish and replace some university buildings and create a new sports centre.
Hopefully this masterplan sends a signal to everyone that the university is investing in the city and we believe in the city.Graham Galbraith
Vice-chancellor Graham Galbraith said the work will provide better walkways through the parks surrounding university buildings, making a key gateway to Gunwharf Quays.
During a presentation to business leaders, Mr Galbraith said they were excited to be moving ahead with the plans, which were first unveiled two years ago.
They include the new Victoria Building, on the former Victoria Baths site, which will have a top-floor restaurant for public use and will house a business school; replacing the current Anglesea Road building with a new one; and constructing a state-of-the-art sports facility.
The university is hoping to work with international architects to design the first concept plans.
Mr Galbraith said: ‘These proposals give us a big opportunity about what we want, but also how the university fits into the city.
‘We need to continue the success of the university, the football club and other businesses to continue to grow the strength of the city itself.
‘Hopefully this masterplan sends a signal to everyone that the university is investing in the city and we believe in the city.’
Mr Galbraith added: ‘People might hear about these plans and think we will be doubling in size. We will grow a little bit but we aren’t planning on doing a big, overwhelming expansion.
‘If we are to remain competitive and one of the best, then we have got to invest in the estates.
‘It is a very exciting time for the university. For the people of Portsmouth it is great the university is doing so well.’
Fiona Bell, director of estates and campus services, insisted the project was about getting the community involved in university life.
‘We want the public to be engaged and these new designs do that,’ she said.
‘The new sports facility will have a glass ground floor so people can look in and it will be available for the public.
‘We want people to feel comfortable within university buildings, for example using the restaurant at the top of Victoria Building. They don’t at the moment.
‘Once they come and see what’s going on, it will open their eyes.’
One of the first big projects of the masterplan is the sports facility.
As previously reported in The News, the £50m scheme will have an eight-lane swimming pool, climbing wall, ski simulator, large sports hall and fitness suite.
The university hopes to see the planning application submitted in the summer and, if agreed, work will start in autumn with a completion time of 2020.
At the same time, the university will be working with designers for the Victoria Building, which it is hoped will be open by 2021.