ARU Peterborough public science centre gets green light

The third phase of building work at ARU Peterborough include a second teaching space and a ‘living lab’

Plans have been approved for a second teaching building and “an interactive public science centre” at ARU Peterborough by the county’s combined authority.

The university in Peterborough will open its doors to an anticipated 2,000 students in September this year in the first phase of its development.

The third phase of building work was approved by the board of the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority.

The plans include a publicly accessible ‘living lab’ “designed to stimulate and inspire more people into STEM” by hosting events, exhibitions, flexible learning, a festival of ideas, displays, forums and evening classes. The facility will offer the city what ARU Peterborough describe as a “distinct ‘University Quarter'”.

The third phase also includes a second teaching building, offering space for 1,750 additional students, mainly in STEM subjects.

Both buildings are planned for completion by September 2024.

We passionately believe that universities should be spaces that the whole community can benefit from and enjoy
– Prof Ross Renton, ARU Peterborough

Funding for phase three has been secured, with the city council’s successful bid to the Levelling Up Fund securing £20 million for the project. The remaining £8m will come from the city council, the Combined Authority and Anglia Ruskin University – which acts as the higher education partner for ARU Peterborough.

ARU Peterborough public science centre gets green light
The first and second phases of ARU Peterborough are due to open in September and December 2022 respectively

The second phase of ARU Peterborough – planned to open in December 2022 – comprises a research and development centre and business innovation centre – the latter a joint venture between the Combined Authority and Peterborough-based business Photocentric. The university also has a designated incubator space for start-up and tech businesses.

Prof Ross Renton, principal of ARU Peterborough, said the newly approved building “will provide additional teaching capacity, with cutting edge technology, for our students, outstanding facilities for the local community, and help to create a vibrant campus for ARU Peterborough”.

“We passionately believe that universities should be spaces that the whole community can benefit from and enjoy. Phase 3 will be at the heart of Peterborough’s exciting new University Quarter, with the Living Lab offering a unique, hands-on science space that will be a fabulous asset to the city and the wider region,” he added.

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson said: “To have three phases fully funded in a relatively short time span is great progress. We are moving at pace because the skills divide in this region is a major cause of the inequalities which hold back everyone’s prosperity and harm people’s health and wellbeing.

“ARU Peterborough is a key part of the solution to some of our most important social and economic challenges. In just eight months, we will have the first students starting their courses, and we can start to see the benefits of this transformative project.”

Read more: ARU Peterborough appoints inaugural principal

Related news: ARU Peterborough: ‘Fens’ aren’t what they used to be

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