Below are a selection of comments that have been submitted to the University during the consultation process. Our consultants have responded to some of the questions/suggestions (shown in bold).
I support Warwick University expanding as I believe the success of Warwick University a positive force for change for the local community and Coventry and beyond. My wife attends Warwick University, I am from Coventry, we met at an event on Warwick University campus and we live a couple of miles away. I think I have two significant concerns though.
Firstly, increasing transport movements from the University is putting a significant strain on both road and public transport….I have written to Centro asking why there is not a direct limited stop bus service at peak time from the City Centre/train station to campus. This may encourage more students to stick with the bus, and take the strain off local bus services in term time. Really there ought to be a tram service which would solve the problems. Without a solution there will be gridlock at times already there is, and this not acceptable. It is disappointing that transport is not a major part of this review.
Secondly, with the rising cost of University more students are staying at home - thought needs to be put into university places for local students. Obviously students need to meet high criteria, but once they have met that criteria living in the area ought to count for something, because going to your local university is more affordable. My daughter will be of University age in 2021.
Whilst I understand the need to grow the University's infrastructure to meet growing demand for education and research, I have two major concerns:
a) Use of green belt land. I'd love to see Warwick lead the way in modelling sustainable development, showing how its objectives can be achieved without further erosion of our increasingly threatened natural landscape and wildlife.
b) Increased traffic. This is already a problem, with a noticeable increase during term time. This will only get worse as the University grows, with associated negative environmental impact. Can suitable investment/provision be made for public transport from obvious areas of student residence e.g. Leamington?
The further development of Warwick University is a model of sustainable development, albeit one rooted in the 1960's establishment of new universities on edge-of-city campuses. The current development plans are contained within the university’s 1964 boundaries and therefore further growth should not be confused with physical expansion. There is a challenge to develop in a way which is sustainable in environmental terms, and to avoid unnecessary erosion of the natural landscape and wildlife, which we believe our plans seek to achieve.
With regards to concerns about increased traffic, we accept that the expansion of the University will lead to an increase in the demand of travel and that this will need to be managed sensibly and flexibly to ensure that local roads do not become unacceptably congested. Working closely with Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council and the Highways Agency - with whom we have been in discussion for many months already - our aim is to create a balanced strategy which improves key road junctions and infrastructure; reduces the number of students and staff driving to the campus; restricts car parking on campus; and promotes more sustainable transport options.
There should be a big park-and-ride car park somewhere near the A46, either at the Stoneleigh or Kenilworth exits (or perhaps both, the former for south travelling commuters and the latter for north travelling ones), with frequent (preferably free, to encourage use) buses or trams from there to campus. As there would be fewer cars on Gibbett Hill Road, the buses would only take 5 minutes for the journey (no traffic jams). People would save 10-15 minutes morning and night and would arrive at work fresher and more rested. And a large amount of carbon emissions would be saved. The University could trade that land used for the car parks by the A46 (mostly empty fields at present) for the car-park space saved on campus.
The central campus east of Gibbet Hill Road is already quite densely developed and care should be taken not to damage the current balance between open spaces and buildings that defines the character of the campus (particularly around the Arts Centre and the old Senate House and the Humanities Building). The University should not rule out the possibility of demolishing older buildings (like Maths at Gibbett Hill) to make way for more space efficient (and better looking) structures. Campus should be a collection of first rate structures – not a series of extensions to building that have become dated and inadequate. Anything that significantly disrupts the balance of central campus would be a mistake though.
The university recognises the need to plan carefully and avoid over-developing a campus which is successful and attractive, hence the imperative for design-led long-term masterplanning. The university aspires to improve the quality of buildings commissioned on the campus.
Expansion is fine but something needs to be done about the traffic congestion within the immediate areas of the University.
- Restrict the traffic using Gibbett Hill Road to University and locals from the Kenilworth Road
- Install a new access road to the university through the university Science Park or from DeMontford Road?
- Stop heavy goods vehicles using Gibbett Hill Road, from the Kenilworth end at least.
I'm sure you have considered it but purchase the Rugby playing grounds that go up to Charter Avenue but don't go into the green belt areas towards Kenilworth.
- The assumption of constant expansion is dangerous. Maybe you should consult with natural sciences, chemistry or physics on this not just business or media. There seems to be no end game planning. The Uni could collapse under its own weight.
- Large scale development as you are detailing will negatively impact the local area. Beware you don't kill it off altogether. See Hatfield, Herts for an example where the Uni has done this. It is now an extended halls of residence with locals leaving in droves and very poor facilities. This could happen to you and where is the foreign student experience in that? You are not a city Uni and you may end up being a nothing Uni without a context.
- If you want to expand as much as you seem to, start another site with more to offer.
- Why is building on greenbelt allowed just because you are a University? You are just another business. You should not be using green belt land.
- You still seem to be wanting to close off through roads. You should be leaving them open and providing e.g. bridges between buildings. You cannot turn this area into a large campus - Coventry has more to it than that.
- You seem to think that the University brings too much to the area to be opposed - that is not true.
Your expansion plans are too much too soon. Chase the quality not the money.
The university’s growth plans are very much about chasing “quality” rather than money in that the focus is on research rather than student numbers. Constant expansion is not an end in itself, but is necessary to maintain the university’s standing and international reputation. Warwick is not a large university. Another campus is not regarded as being sustainable and would dilute the essence of what Warwick offers. Warwick was in the Green Belt in 1964 and therefore it has always been acknowledged that it would develop in the Green Belt.
I fully support the University on its plans to develop and congratulate it on the successes which it has achieved since it came into being.
As stated, the original concept was that Gibbett Hill Lane should become a private campus road, and the original plan was for a new access road to Cannon Hill and Westwood Business Park. The development plan MUST now include for that to be provided. It is no longer acceptable to increase traffic volumes along Gibbett Hill Lane whilst increasing the numbers of pedestrians trying to move from one side of campus to the other.
As a 'non-local' and only (these days) occasional visitor to the campus, I do not feel it appropriate to respond to the detailed layout issues. However, it does seem worth commenting on the transport issues which the enlarged campus and increased level of activity will bring.
Without significant change in transport, the University will face quite significant challenges retaining a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere, and well as meeting its local and wider environmental responsibilities. The stated commitments to 'greener' travel are welcome but relatively difficult to achieve - at least beyond token levels. However, this also presents an opportunity for the University - including especially its engineering and social science activities - to work up and demonstrate innovative ways of convincing large numbers of people to travel other than by (single occupancy) car.
One option, which already has something of an academic pedigree, might be the development and use of Personal Rapid Transport (PRT), which offers low energy, quiet, safe, on-demand 24 hour automated personal transport. (One developer-supplier web site which gives useful explanation is www.atsltd.co.uk. A PRT system could provide useful in-campus links, and also, with cooperation from the local authorities, provide links to off-site facilities. Coventry rail station would be an obvious choice, although perhaps a little ambitious for the early stages. However, if this approach were implemented it would be of major benefit to the City of Coventry, thus enabling the University make another contribution to its locality.
I trust this is helpful.
Access to the University is severely limited at present by the narrowness of access roads and traffic building up on the Coventry side. Obviously this will become worse as time goes on and eventual gridlock can be expected. The idea of limiting car access with single occupancy is not the answer. Park and Ride (as at Oxford) introduces many problems including time of journey and reduced security. Warwick needs a dedicated station and the Marylebone-Birmingham line could hardly be closer. Objections must be overcome.
Gibbett Hill Road should not be closed to the public since it gives access to areas beyond the University. Such closure would mean public users having to make roundabout journeys to a destination previously made via Gibbett Hill Road.
Although Early Development Plans for the university (in 1966 and 1974) proposed that Gibbet Hill Road would either be removed, or would become a private university road, it continues to form a barrier dividing the two areas of the central campus. However, there are no plans to close Gibbett Hill Road. This year’s Development Plan includes strategies to improve cycle and pedestrian links across the road, and a number of sites where buildings and landscape would be designed to form connections across the road. These places would also act as traffic calming measures.