University delays opening of new Temple Quarter campus as Covid and Brexit force ‘recalibration’

April 9, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic and Brexit have combined to force the University of Bristol to reshape the ambitious plans for its new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, delaying its opening by three years to 2025.

Groundworks on the £300m, seven-acre campus on the former Post Office sorting office site next to Temple Meads railway station have continued over the past year in line with government Covid guidance. 

The site, which will be home to a number of state-of-the-art academic buildings plus 3,000 students and 800 staff, had been due to be open in time for the 2022/2023 academic year.

But the university said that it expected the pandemic and Brexit to impact the scheme’s timing particularly due to supply chain issues, although it said these problems were yet to be fully realised.

However, due to these uncertainties, the university said it is to “recalibrate” the campus programme – one of the UK’s largest regeneration schemes

The now aims is to start the main construction build on the Cattle Market Road site next summer, with the anticipated opening of the new campus during the second half of 2025.

It also said Covid had ushered in new ways of working, which had forced it to rethink how it could deliver its work and maintain resilience and flexibility in future years.

It is now redesigning some of the spaces and layouts in the main academic building on Cattle Market Road, so that they better fit needs for the future.

These include building in more flexibility and futureproofing so that spaces can be easily adapted for different uses such as ‘flipping’ classrooms to hackspaces in a much more agile manner than would have been possible previously.

The university is also exploring the possibility of relocating some of the specialist facilities and supporting hub spaces into the two stone buildings close to the site on Avon Street, which had previously been the Vauxhall Drive workshop. This is subject to the approval of a change-of-use planning application, which is currently being prepared.

If approved, the university could open new research facilities in the existing buildings on Avon Street early next year.

Bringing forward the regeneration of these two buildings was key in helping to develop the Temple Quarter Innovation District and support local business, it said.

The university has submitted an outline planning application for the Wales and West Utilities and Vauxhall and Kawasaki Drive sites on Avon Street and Gas Lane. This follows the public consultation that took part last year and is part of a longer-term development plan for these three sites.

University chief property officer Barra Mac Ruairí said: “We are committed to Temple Quarter. We have taken on a challenging site in a challenging time with a scheme which is unique in terms of its activity.

“It’s a great project where learning, research, workshops and a civic building come together as one which is core to our future.

“A project of this scale and ambition comes with a range of complexities, which have been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. However, we have pushed forward and will use this time to recalibrate and make the project even stronger and add more resilience.

“Our ambition is clear but any delay is disappointing, our vision for the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus has not changed and we remain 100% committed to contribute to the research, innovation and skills required to drive the city and region’s post-Covid recovery and help regenerate and deliver the future vision for Temple Quarter and St Philip’s Marsh.”

The site will feature the Bristol Digital Futures Institute, the Quantum Technology Innovation Centre, and the Bristol Inclusive Economy Initiative.

These will draw on existing research strengths and will see the university partner with hundreds of small and medium sized enterprises, large corporates, third sector and community organisations and local and regional government.

It will also host landmark new initiatives such as MyWorld, a £46m Bristol-led programme which will position the South West as an international trailblazer in screen-based media; creating new research and development facilities and partnerships and connecting regional SMEs and large companies with global tech titans including Netflix, Google and Microsoft.

Pictured, top: The exterior of the main academic building and public realm on the Cattle Market Road site. Image from Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.

Below: Aerial view showing Cattle Market Road (academic buildings), the northern part of Temple Island (student residential buildings), the Wales & West Utilities and Vauxhall and Kawasaki Drive sites and Plot 1 Silverthorne Lane. Image from Allford Hall Monaghan Morris


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