Planning permission sought for ‘flagship’ University of Carlisle city campus

Funding from the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal and Carlisle Town Deal Fund has covered three-quarters of the projected costs of the development

The University of Cumbria is seeking planning permission for its Citadels campus, the “flagship” of its future city centre estate.

The announcement coincides with a public consultation for the project centred around two Grade I listed rotundas adjacent to the city’s train station. The project will convert shops once owned by Woolworths and Burton’s in its transformation of the site beside English Street. The university said that an earlier public consultation on the outline plan drew a “majority” positive response from city residents.

Planning permission sought for 'flagship' University of Carlisle city campus
Old shops will make way for a three-storey glass atrium facing onto English Street.

Designed by DAY Architectural Ltd., the new campus development is the culmination of a partnership between the university, city and county councils, and the Cumbria Local Economic Partnership. Sir Robert McAlpine has been appointed to undertake the work.

The new campus will include public access and thoroughfares, gardens and a “public realm/civic space”, according to documents submitted to the council. The new campus will house a Carlisle Business Exchange and a Centre for Digital Transformation.

Planning permission sought for 'flagship' University of Carlisle city campus 1
The new site is closer to the railway station than the university’s current home.

The university hopes works will start in the first half of 2023 – with the site operational by spring 2026. Archaeological surveys will begin later this year.

The £77.5m cost of the project has been met in part by £50 million from the government-backed Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal and £4 million from the Carlisle Town Deal Fund.

The university vice-chancellor, Prof Julie Mennell, said the announcement “takes us another step closer to realising our ambition”.

The project would, she said, “increase the accessibility, reach and impact of our academic offer [and] add vibrancy to the city centre, increasing activity, footfall and investment, and support our region’s post-covid recovery”.

The university is not the only institution hoping to consolidate its operations into a new, purpose-built city-centre campus. The universities of Derby, Sheffield Hallam, Nottingham, and Brighton are all opening facilities on brownfield land in their respective city centres for students and residents.


Read more: University of York to reinvent historic city centre landmark

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