Green light for £96m University of Leeds investment

THE University of Leeds has given the seal of approval to plans to create a £96m Centre for Engineering and Physical Sciences.

The scheme, the largest, single-project investment ever to have been made on campus, was approved by the council, the university’s governing body.

Positioned at the edge of campus on Woodhouse Lane, the proposed 15,700 sq m centre will include first-class laboratory and specialised teaching spaces, enabling cutting-edge research.

Areas of research it will support include energy efficient computing, telecommunications, sustainable magnetic materials, sensors for use in biological systems and extreme or remote environments, pharmaceutical formulations, ‘smart foods’ and medical technologies.

Dennis Hopper, director of facilities management, said: “This investment is a substantial part of the University’s £520m campus development plan and will help to secure our ambition to be one of the UK’s top ten research universities.  

“The development will provide impetus and academic acceleration in our Engineering and Physical Sciences disciplines.

“It’s also great news for the Leeds City Region, with the investment further strengthening the University’s ability to attract major research funding with a consequential impact on the Leeds City Region economy.”

Professor Lisa Roberts, deputy vice-chancellor, research and innovation, said: “The University already has a strong, global reputation for its pioneering science and engineering research, but currently some disciplines that are, and should be, working together are spread across campus.

“This investment is about creating a modern, highly flexible space to bring teams and facilities together in a single location to support, stimulate and inspire interdisciplinary approaches to tackling big research questions.”

The next stages of the project involve presenting the plans to the Leeds City Council Planning Committee later this year.

Following this, a site survey will be conducted with a view to tendering the demolition works contract ahead of a start on site in early 2017. Full project completion is scheduled for 2020.

This news follows last month’s announcement marking Leeds City Council’s approval of Nexus – a £40m innovation and enterprise centre – designed to help new and established companies and other organisations harness the University’s capabilities in a more streamlined and inventive way.