The University of Sheffield is aiming to make its campus much more attractive.
It is planning to radically improve the landscaping, adding greenery and water features, pedestrianising some roads and generally seeking to match the quality of the squares and other traffic-free areas in the city centre.
“We have some fantastic world class buildings, but we have got pretty poor public realm,” said Keith Lilley, director of estates and facilities management. “By contrast the city centre has one of the best public realms you will see anywhere in the world, especially around the Peace Gardens. We need to bring it up to that standard.”
The university is looking to upgrade its campus, from Western Bank and around St George’s and Portobello towards Newcastle Street, as it continues to grow and seeks to underline its reputation as a top class institution in the increasingly competitive market of higher education, aiming to attract more students from the UK and overseas.
Part of the strategy is to meet the “desperate” need for more and better public space for staff and students.
Consultation will start soon on a campus masterplan to cover the next ten years that is designed to dovetail into the council’s updated city centre masterplan. “We have been working very closely together to make sure what we want to do is complementary to the city’s strategy,” said Mr Lilley. “We think we are nearly there.”
One of the intentions to remove the car park in front of the Arts Tower, which was refurbished at a cost of £36m, so that the area can be landscaped.
Plans also include pedestrianising Favell Road and part of Hounsfield Road, off Western Bank. All the changes will be financed by the university itself.
Meanwhile, its £81m engineering complex under construction on part of the site of the former Jessop Hospital is to be called The Diamond, to reflect the design and the quality of the facilities.
The six-storey building - controversial in its replacement of the hospital’s Edwardian wing - is due to open by September 2015 with the aim of helping to put Sheffield at the forefront of international engineering expertise. Some 400 staff will work there.