Bangor University has launched a consultation as part of plans to develop a new ten-year estates strategy.
The University estate comprises some 126 buildings which are dispersed across a number of locations, with the nucleus of the University located close to Bangor city centre and comprising of the College Road, Pontio and the Deiniol Road site. In addition, the also operates from a number of sites outside the city, including Wrexham, Gaerwen and Abergwyngregyn.
The consultation document proposes a radical consolidation of the University’s Estate to reduce the ‘footprint’ and improve the quality of the built estate, thereby reducing costs and improving the experience of students, staff and visitors.
Analysis of the size, condition and levels of usage of the estate together with a realistic assessment of potential levels of future investment by the University, all indicate that a managed consolidation is the only viable option to deliver the savings required.
Amongst the options under consideration are vacating both the Dean Street and Normal sites in Bangor, acquiring a small number of new buildings, and some redevelopment.
Professor Graham Upton, Interim Vice-Chancellor said: ““Over the next ten years, the university is considering reducing the size of its estate in order to improve the standard of the buildings, make the estate more sustainable, and reduce costs whilst improving the experience of students, staff and visitors.”
Bangor University Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Carol Tully said: “It’s essential that our estate is environmentally and financially sustainable, and it’s vital that we provide our staff and students with facilities to work and study which are fit for purpose.
“We have too many unsuitable buildings. It’s our aim to develop a strategy to improve the overall condition and suitability of our buildings to meet the needs of the next generation of students.”
The University has prepared a consultation document to be discussed with stakeholders. A detailed and fully costed delivery plan will then be developed and implemented over the 2020 -2030 period of this plan.
Professor Tully said: “This is an exciting opportunity to help shape the future of the university‘s estate for the next decade and beyond. We look forward to hearing the views of staff, students, the local community and stakeholders on this important matter.”
While the university has placed a value of £323 million on its estate, it has also highlighted a massive backlog in maintenance to improve the condition of its existing buildings.
According to the University’s database this is in the region of £11m. But this is believed to be a significant under estimate as the information is dated and excludes the backlog maintenance associated with the Main Arts Building and Management Centre.
A significant proportion of the identified backlog is associated with just two buildings – Alun Roberts Tower and Dean Street. More generally, there is a cluster of buildings on the Deiniol Road Science Site which are in poor condition and account for much of the University’s backlog maintenance costs. Backlog maintenance costs for the Grade 1 listed Main Arts Building are estimated to be in the region of £6m.
To deliver sufficient savings, the university is considering reducing its estate by as much as 25%. A cut of this scale could, depending on options, reduce annual operating costs by at least £2m per annum, generate capital receipts of at least £7m and eliminate at least £9m of backlog maintenance. This would result in an improved financial position for the University which, in turn, will mean more funding is available to invest in maintaining staff and the student experience.
Dean Street & Normal Sites
The university plan to concentrate its non-residential estate onto a single campus in Bangor (Deiniol Road and College Road sites) and dispose of some major sites.
Under the proposals the Uni would withdraw from their Dean Street and Normal sites and offer the buildings for sale, it is recommended that the university commits, without delay, to withdraw from Dean St by September 2021 and to relocate from the Normal Site after 2022, depending on financial assessments.
As part of the potential investment in Medical and Health education in north Wales the School of Health Care Sciences could relocate to the main campus. Fron Heulog could be offered for sale or used for a new purpose.
The university will review office organisation and provision with a view to optimisation and consolidation of office-based support, to create more efficient and modern office infrastructure. This will not only deliver more efficient space use it should also improve operational efficiency. The review will also seek to identify the areas and buildings where related services could be co-located.
Review of College Road buildings
This is a diverse and attractive site and there are many possibilities, it is recommended a detailed review of the College Road estate is undertaken. The review should be integrated with the reviews of teaching and office spaces proposed above. It should consider the utility of each building to identify optimal uses including provision of centralised administration centres, teaching centres or new homes for Schools already on the site or being relocated. Options should also include vacating and mothballing, refurbishment for a new use or demolition to create future development sites. All subject to the limitations of the conservation area status.
A Gwynedd County Council owned building on Deiniol Road, MENTEC could serve as the new hub for relocating Dean Street and Alun Roberts Tower staff.
Old Post Office
The University have considered acquiring the old Post Office building on Deiniol Road but rejected it on the grounds of costs. The building is still available and consideration will be given to re-engaging with the owner on the basis of a lower and more realistic price.
The old post office is considered to be an ideal location for a student social centre and would allow the co-location of all Student Union activities in a single building and free-up space in Pontio and Academi, as well as obviating the need for rented storage space at Llandygai. The existing Academi building will need refurbishment in due course; its location isn’t ideal and blocks a site for the future development of a formal entrance to the Deiniol Road site.
The document outlines the position and presents analyses in support of this conclusion. The document aims to provide the basis for a consultation with all stakeholders. Following consultation, a detailed and fully costed delivery plan will be developed to be implemented over the 2020–2030 period of this plan.
The full document can be found here: https://www.bangor.ac.uk/property-and-campus-services/estate-strategy/consultation and responses are invited by 25 June, 2019.