At the Students’ Union Annual General Meeting on 18 January 2013, Dan Clayton, the University’s Environmental Sustainability Manager, gave a presentation and took questions on campus development.
Dan Derricott, our Student Engagement Officer, kindly made a note of the main issues raised, and DC and I sat down this week to answer the questions in writing. We all thought it would be useful to publish the Q&A here so that interested students (and staff) can check it out.
Happy reading – and if you have any more questions, please let us know using the comments form at the bottom of this post, or @LincolnEstates on Twitter.
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Q: Could Art & Design students see the plans for the new Art & Design building?
A: Yes – you can download the floor plans and elevations from the Learning Landscapes blog (direct link here).
Q: There should be more student involvement in the design of new buildings and spaces.
A: We agree!
Student representatives are already invited to be part of Project Steering Groups through Colleges / Schools.
We encourage students (and staff) to engage with proposed and ongoing projects by reading and commenting on the Learning Landscapes blog (http://learninglandscapes.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk) and the Estates & Commercial Facilities Twitter account (@LincolnEstates).
Q: Will investing in the campus help Lincoln continue its rise in league tables?
A: Yes. Investing to improve facilities across the University should have a positive impact on National Student Survey results, teaching quality, and spend per student, all of which contribute to the University’s league table positions. In the longer term, our investment in providing facilities specifically designed for research activity has supported dramatic growth in research output which should further improve our position in some of the league tables. Less visible but equally important is our continued investment in energy efficiency projects, which has paid off through improvements in our Green League position over the years.
Q: There are lots of rooms often empty across campus, such as in the Architecture Building, so why build more?
Space utilisation rates at the University have improved significantly – especially since the introduction of space charging in August 2012. Our centrally timetabled space is now very well utilised (timetabled utilisation of 52.3% vs. UK HE upper quartile of 46.2%; surveyed utilisation of 39.8% vs. UK HE upper quartile of 31.3%).
We are actively exploring ways to make all of our space even more efficient, including office space as well as teaching rooms.
The new AAD Building is providing replacement space for subjects currently based in Chad Varah House, the Greestone Centre and Thomas Parker House. The existing AAD Building is also being reconfigured this year to improve efficiency. The University’s total estate will actually be smaller and more efficient as a result of this new building.
It is also sometimes necessary to create specialist facilities to accommodate advanced research and specialised teaching, for example in the Schools of Engineering, Life Sciences, and Pharmacy, where adapting existing facilities would be uneconomical and wouldn’t deliver the required level of quality.
Q: There isn’t a great deal of green or open space on campus; will these developments reduce that further?
The new Brayford Campus masterplan includes a strategy for improving the landscaping around the site. This should provide more seating areas, improved biodiversity, and a softer campus with more trees and plants.
Q: There’s lot of investment in academic space, but what are the plans for investing in student accommodation to deal with the shortfall in properties available?
A: The masterplan includes areas that have been allocated for student accommodation – enough space for around 1,200 new beds.
In addition, there are a number of private student accommodation developments underway / planned – Wigford Yard (400 rooms), Bacon Factory site (200+ rooms), adjacent to Holiday Inn Express (100 rooms).
Q: The Learning Landscapes blog should be better promoted to students as it’s got lots of useful information on it and the ‘Phase Two’ display in the Atrium should be explained more clearly so that students understand the context.
A: This blog will be promoted much more actively during 2013, now that it has been successfully established. This will include mentions in staff and student Daily / Weekly Alerts, on Twitter, and on construction sites etc. We would also be grateful if the Students’ Union, and students generally, would share the link with colleagues.
The Phase Two display in the Atrium will be upgraded very soon to show the latest design proposals and to provide more contextual information on the Atrium project. That information will also be published on this blog.
Q: Will the increase in tuition fees affect demand [i.e. reduce student numbers] for these new buildings and as such, would you not be better investing in improving current buildings and courses?
A: The increase in tuition fees makes it even more important that all of our student-facing facilities are of an excellent standard.
The University is investing in its existing buildings as well. Summer 2013 will see the second phase of the Atrium upgrade; extension and improvement of the Library; and further improvements to the existing AAD Building.
We are also developing plans for a revamp of the MAB lecture theatres; new seminar rooms on the third floor of the MAB; upgrades to the teaching laboratories in the Science Building; a further extension to the Library; changes to the MHT Building; and improvements to the SU’s office spaces within the Student Centre.
Q: Do the plans include anything about maintaining or increasing car parking spaces?
A: The masterplan does include options for a multi-storey car park at the Brayford Campus. This would add significant capacity to allow for future increases in the number of campus users.