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GRAND VISIONS IN THE UNIVERSITY PROPERTY SECTOR.

Byline: FRANCIS SHENNAN

This month, the first physical work will start on Scotland's biggest education development which will eventually absorb an estimated PS1bn over 10 years, dwarfing the investment in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

It is a dramatic demonstration of the value of the university property sector alone. This excludes the growing investment in student accommodation and in other college and school campuses.

Graham Construction is starting on the softstrip-out, service diversions and, later with Dem-Master Demolition, the removal of Glasgow University's mathematics and statistics building. It is the beginning of the PS700m first phase of the redevelopment of the university's 70-acre campus in Glasgow's West End.

The first phase centres on the 14-acre former Western Infirmary site and will include six academic buildings, creating 2,500 jobs. First up will be a new learning and teaching hub on the site of the demolished building and adjoining car park, linking to the existing Boyd Orr building on University Avenue.

At the time of writing the university was in preferred-bidder stage but industry sources reported Multiplex had won the contract for managing the project. The first phase will include an Institute of Health & Wellbeing, the Adam Smith Business School, a base for the College of Arts, clearing the Western Infirmary site and landscaping public areas.

As well as 699,689 sq ftof academic and teaching space, a 183,000 sq ftresearch building, and 193,800 sq ftof offices, planning has been submitted for 75,350 sq ftof retail and leisure space, a 134,600 sq fthotel and 156,100 sq ftof residential. It will deliver a new urban quarter for Glasgow with a central square linking to Byres Road.

Bruce Patrick, investment director at Savills Glasgow, which was last year appointed the university's strategic investment and development advisor on a five-year contract, described it as by far one of the most "ambitious regeneration projects ever seen in Scotland, a project that that will transform the West End of Glasgow."

The second phase starting in 2023 will include new engineering teaching space, an Innovation Quarter on Church Street for new companies, a chronic diseases research building, and a Social Justice research hub.

University principal Anton Muscatelli called it "the biggest development undertaken by this university since it moved to Gilmorehill 150 years ago" but said it would be funded from the university's own income and a funding drive.

It is also the largest and most dramatic of a number of university developments. Elsewhere in the city Robertson Central has completed PS20m of construction on a two-year PS30m project at Glasgow Caledonian University to create a new main entrance and renovate the George Moore and Hamish Wood buildings.

Strathclyde University is scheduled to open a new PS33m sports and health building on Cathedral Street in summer next year. It will include a six-lane 25m swimming pool, gym, sauna, physio consultation rooms and teaching and research space. With an PS89m Technology and Innovation Centre opened in 2015 it will take the university's investment to more than PS600m this decade.

Across the country at Musselburgh, East Lothian, Queen Margaret University, which moved there 10 years ago from Corstorphine in Edinburgh, is developing plans for an Edinburgh Innovation Park as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

East Lothian Council's proposed Local Development Plan designates the land next to the campus for use for employment purposes. QMU expects the park eventually to create up to 13,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Phase 1 is intended 1 to create an Enterprise Hub for small and medium-sized enterprises with the first buildings expected to be a National Tech Enterprise Centre and a National Food Enterprise Centre, reflecting QMU's reputation for research in new food product development and healthy foods.

"We provide education, research and knowledge exchange work in health and rehabilitation, business, and the creative industries," says QMU principal Professor Petra Wend. "Work in food and drink has also been a very important part of our DNA."

As well as the park, a commercial hub will provide retail and leisure facilities for students, staffand local communities. Both will depend on funding, land procurement and the upgrade of the A1 junction at QMU. The earmarked 50-acre site is currently owned by Persimmon. A public-private-community partnership approach is planned.

Professor Wend has called it a "once-in-a lifetime opportunity that takes advantage of a prime location, providing businesses - especially SME's and artisans - with access to national and international networks and expertise provided through the university and the wider university network".

To the south west of QMU at Edinburgh University's King's Buildings campus, Robertson Central is working on a PS12m contract to prepare the site of the Darwin building, a 1960s tower block that is part of the School of Biological Sciences, for refurbishment.

It involves building a threestorey extension to the university's CH Waddington Building, a new electrical plant building, and demolishing of the Darwin library block and out-buildings. The full refurbishment of the tower, due for completion in 2021, will include a new three-storey extension.

To the south is the university's Easter Bush Veterinary Campus, which incorporates The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and The Roslin Institute, helping to make it Europe's largest concentration of animal science-related expertise.

The university is embarking on a PS9m energy project there to revolutionise heating, cooling and electricity. The trigeneration system will capture waste heat from electricity generation and produce heating for buildings and cooling in summer.

Partner Vital Energi is also installing a 4km, buried district energy network to carry hot and chilled water around campus.

In the centre of Edinburgh the university's PS25m Data Technology Institute, the third and final phase of the Potterrow development after the Informatics Forum and Dugald Stewart Building, is scheduled for completion this December. The seven-storey 9,700 sq ftbuilding will be a hub for developing data technologies, research and analytics in education across Scotland and internationally.

West of the city centre at Sighthill, Napier University is due to open a PS3m timber research hub to support the construction of sustainable housing in the UK. Napier's director of sustainable construction Professor Sean Smith has described the PS1bn forestry sector, which employs more than 16,000 people, as the "green gold" of the Scottish economy where 75 per cent of new housing is timberbased.

Beyond the central belt St Andrews University is planning a PS24m redevelopment of its Eden Campus at Guardbridge. It would form part of the PS1.84 bn Tay Cities Deal for Tayside and north east Fife and follow a PS25m university investment in a green energy centre there pumping hot water four miles to its buildings in St Andrews.

The redevelopment of 6,000 sq ftof derelict buildings could create 500 jobs and relocate more than 350 university stafffrom St Andrews next year. It could also unlock PS75m of private-sector inward investment in five years, and house an Advance Materials Centre.

In the centre of St Andrews the university is planning a new music building in Queens Terrace bordering St Mary's Quadrangle. It is will contain practice and teaching studios, a recording suite and a library.

The future of the university property sector, though, is less clear cut than progress on the music centre may suggest. Last year Edinburgh University secured a PS200m loan for refurbishment projects from the European Investment Bank, owned by and representing the interests of EU member states.

Bank vice-president Jonathan Taylor reported at the time that the 30-year loan was one of the largest ever to a European university. The School of Biological Sciences and the Data Technology Institute are among the beneficiaries.

As the bank works closely with other EU institutions to implement EU policy, it is unlikely to remain open as a source of future finance, although just under 10 per cent of its investment is outside Europe.

Fortunately the loan followed from a PS100m loan - also at less than three per cent - from a US investment fund. The university's building programme, though, amounts to PS1.5bn. The rest of the funding will come from capital grants, fundraising and investment surpluses. |

Queen Margaret University is developing plans for an Edinburgh Innovation Park as part of a City Region Deal

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Above: an artist's impression of QMU's Queen Margaret Drive

Below: Bruce Patrick, investment director at Savills Glasgow

A CGI of the proposed Edinburgh Innovation Park
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Insider Monthly
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 9, 2017
Words:1394
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