Vice-chancellor, professor Graham Galbraith, has spoken about plans to use the University of Portsmouth as a driving force in the city’s development.
Professor Galbraith said: ‘I see the university as having a pivotal role in the redevelopment of the city. In order for the university to attract the best staff it is important the city is viewed as a desirable place to live. The better the city performs the better the university performs.’
The development initiative is part of the university’s 10-year ‘strategic plan’ which will see almost £400m invested. One of the first stages in the implementation of the plan is the development of a new £53m sports complex and additional investment to improve the surrounding parkland. Facilities will include an eight-court sports hall, eight-lane 25 metre swimming pool, fitness suite, multipurpose studios, squash courts, climbing wall and a ski simulator.
‘This new facility will help us to deliver an outstanding student experience and create a dynamic sporting environment, as well as connecting us with our local community and making a significant contribution to our city. This will be facility for students and the people of Portsmouth,’ said Prof Galbraith.
The building will also have teaching facilities, office space and an underground car park.
‘We also plan to invest £1.5m into the surrounding Ravelin Park to improve this public space. It will include an entrance plaza between the sports building and the library, new pedestrian routes, an urban orchard, increasing the number of trees. We also plan to include bee hives positioned on the the roof,’ added the vice-chancellor.
Prof Galbraith accepts the need for a staggered approach to development and hopes this phase will be completed within two years.
The second phase of development will focus on the regeneration of Victoria Park. A key focus will be the development of a new £100m teaching facility for business, law and humanities on the former Victoria Baths site. As this is near the railway line Prof Galbraith believes the development can play a vital role in promoting a positive first impression of the city.
‘The development will be very close to the railway bridge and so will have a vital role in setting the right tone for visitors to the city. We want the best possible design and so have set up a competition and will invite architects from around the world to submit their ideas,’ said Prof Galbraith.
‘Hopefully this plan sends a signal to everyone that the university is investing in the city and we believe in the city.’
The Conservative group leader on Portsmouth City Council has welcomed the university’s intention to play an integral role in the city’s development.
Cllr Donna Jones said: “This investment is excellent news for the university and for the city. Not only will it create jobs, it will also help our university build on its current success.’