University of Sussex £500m expansion set for green light

From The Argus

Artists’ impressions of new student village

The first phase of a £500 million project to modernise University of Sussex’s campus and accommodate 5,000 more students is set to be given the green light.

Proposals to create more than 2,100 new student rooms on the East Slope of the university’s Falmer Campus will go before the city council’s planning committee.

Councillors are being advised to grant permission to the proposals which would also lead to the creation of a new union bar and entertainment venue as part of a new six-storey building.

Several 1970s student accommodation blocks will make way for the new development while new buildings will also be built on campus car parks.

If granted permission, work could begin early next year with the first phase ready for the start of the 2018/19 academic year and with all work completed by 2020.

The plans, drawn up by architects TP Bennett, are the first stage of a £500 million building programme which the university estimates will create 2,400 permanent jobs.

An outline planning application consenting to the university to build more than 4,000 student rooms, 60,000 sqm of new academic facilities and 2,000 sqm of additional floorspace was granted on appeal in July last year.

Students have ended up with smaller bedrooms as the university tweaked the plans in discussion with officers to build fewer residential blocks to create “a more spacious feel” to the campus.

In responses to the planning applications, the South Downs National Park Authority called on the university to plant “forest sized trees” and not just “street tree lollipops” to ensure the new development merges “seamlessly” with the existing campus.

In total 340 trees will be felled as part of the building project which council officers said was “to be regretted”.

The county ecologist also warned that two “low-status” bat roosts are based at buildings set to be demolished.

Historic England has also voiced concern that moving the student union away from Fulton Court into a new building could dilute the original intentions of architect Sir Basil Spence.

The body concludes new uses should be found for Fulton Court to allow it to remain at “the communal heart of the campus”.

Council planning officers said: “The proposed development is of a high standard of design and will integrate well with the overall master plan and the original Sir Basil Spence design concept without causing harm to the setting of adjacent listed buildings, the Stanmer Park Conservation Area or the South Downs National Park.”

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