Multiversity project appoints consortium of consultants
A team of North West consultants has been appointed jointly by Blackpool Council and Blackpool & The Fylde College to bring forward plans for a new ‘Multiversity’ campus in Blackpool town centre.
The Blackpool Multiversity campus is a unique proposition, providing a cutting-edge response to local, regional and national educational priorities.
Through a high-quality, technical and professional curriculum, co-created with local employers and in partnership with Lancaster University, it will support skills growth in Lancashire.
Two local companies, Blackpool-based Joseph Boniface Architects and Freckleton-based Chartered Building Consultancy Leeming Associates, will support the project lead, Manchester-based Hawkins\Brown CBRE and Amion will also provide support for the project.
The focus of this project is to enable Blackpool Council, Blackpool & The Fylde College and Lancaster University to create a world-class learning facility which aims to relocate the existing Park Road campus into the town centre and support the town’s wider regeneration strategy.
The project has been allocated up to £10m as part of Blackpool’s Town Deal which will be used to develop the business case including the other sources of funding to bring this ambitious and exciting project to fruition.
The Multiversity concept has been designed to provide high value employment and support regional businesses in upskilling their workforces through high-quality technical and professional training and education.
The next few years will be challenging for every business and organisers say it is essential there are centres of excellence both reacting to the changing nature of the economy, marketplace and industry sectors by providing reskilling opportunities for every employee to help organisations not only survive, but also flourish.
The Multiversity will provide employers with access to training programmes which line up with the Government’s Industry Strategy and its Grand Challenges focusing on transforming the nation’s future.
Artificial Intelligence and data, an ageing society, clean growth and the future of mobility will all be part of the course portfolio offered through the Multiversity.
The newly-appointed project team will develop a detailed masterplan for the campus and this important first stage will incorporate a wide range of studies including looking at student behaviour and spending habits, viability and feasibility studies, in-depth site analysis and how the new campus needs to work in a post-COVID world of learning.
Katie Tonkinson, partner and head of Studio North at Hawkins\Brown said: “The brief to create an iconic building for the new university campus and student quarter in Blackpool town centre really appealed to us.
“We knew from our previous working collaborations and our expertise within the field of higher and further education, we had a very strong team of experts that we were keen to bring together who can really deliver something special on this ambitious scheme. Investing in local expertise was the right thing to do for this project.”
Joseph Boniface, director of Joseph Boniface Architects, said: “As well as being a former employee of Hawkins\Brown, I have collaborated with the other consortium members on a number of projects in the past and we work well together, so I’m delighted to be part of the team.
“Being based locally in Blackpool will be key to the speed and agility of the project, assisting with the analysis of the area, site investigations and developing the project design.”
James Alderson, managing director of Leeming Associates, brings a wealth of experience and strong links with Blackpool & The Fylde College, having been their principal surveyor for more than a decade working on the college’s ongoing redevelopment and refurbishment schemes.
He said, “The existing town centre campus has several challenges, it’s perceived as too far out of town by students, is land locked where expansion and redevelopment aren’t viable, and the older buildings present redevelopment and upgrade with issues such as accessibility, DDA compliance, and have dated IT, mechanical, electrical and heating infrastructures.
“Delivering a state-of-the-art purpose-built campus in the town centre will future-proof higher education and learning on Fylde Coast for many years to come and the potential to deliver something of this calibre for Blackpool is extremely exciting.”
Ian Barker, special projects manager for Blackpool & The Fylde College, said: “The benefits of a university campus in a town centre location will create a new interaction between students and businesses, encouraging new life and vitality, a year-round vibrant economy and new spending habits through events and activities in and around the campus.
“The Multiversity will, importantly, help and support over 1,000 new additional learners on the Fylde Coast.”
Cllr Mark Smith, cabinet member for business enterprise and job creation, said: “A Multiversity campus in central Blackpool will be a real game changer for the town. The project has fantastic potential to boost the local economy, investing in the future of both the town and the lifelong education of our residents.”