Unveiling our Estates Strategy… Phase 2

The University of Birmingham’s Estates Strategy capital masterplan, which cover the five-year period 2016-2012, is well underway, and has seen the opening of the Library and the Sport & Fitness Club, among other projects. The University has now announced Phase 2 of this plan, which outlines new projects between 2022 – 2026.

Phase 2 continues to focus on our students, with a significant academic building being delivered every year for five years, starting in 2018 with the completion of the Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL), which will transform science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning. There are also four other new flagship projects as part of the new phase:

  • A new teaching and learning facility, which will be a hub for education. The building will provide a large lecture theatre and an interactive lecture theatre with supporting social space to support the modern learning experience at Birmingham.
  • The new School of Engineering, due for completion in 2020, will bring together all of our engineering disciplines into one state-of-the-art building. It will incorporate a new centre of excellence in rail innovation, bringing industry into the heart of our campus.
  • The new Molecular Sciences Building will be a focal point for strengthening our core research capabilities in the chemical, environmental and bio-molecular sciences. A designated hub for the School of Chemistry will be created and office and laboratory accommodation will be provided for existing School academic staff and researchers.
  • An extension to the University Business School will provide much needed facilities to a successful and growing centre of excellence, allowing the majority of its activities to take place in one building from 2019.

In total, these projects represent an investment of more than £200m as part of the £606m total investment in the Estate in the coming years, using a mixed model of funding. The total includes a proportion of private investment, reflecting the strong financial position the University is in. This ambitious programme is part of the important role we have in celebrating, protecting and upgrading University buildings for the benefit of students and the academic community, building on the history of the institution.

Find out more about what the University of Birmingham is developing in our Estates Strategy brochure.

Accessibility in University Square

Landscaping the first phase of University Square is now thoroughly underway with hoardings constructed, trees protected and old paving pulled up ready for the installation of sparkly new slabs (please note: they won’t actually be sparkly!) In November, we will be bringing an array of new trees to the site for planting.

Green Heart landscaping Aug 17 - Jan 18

Phase 1 of landscaping

But, as a result, many of the old pathways have now become inaccessible. To ensure that everyone can navigate around University Square safely and easily, temporary pathways and ramps have been constructed. All these routes will be clearly signposted. The diagram below outlines there location.

We have worked with colleagues with specific accessibility needs to guarantee that they are prepared for the changes. If you have any specific requirements or concerns around accessibility due to disability or visual impairment, please email the Green Heart team at greenheart@contacts.bham.ac.uk and we will be happy to help.

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New pathway

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Please read the signs

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New ramp

What to expect in University Square

Excitement is building around the landscaping now taking place in University Square. The area nearest to the Arts Building has now been cordoned off and all existing trees have been encircled with protective barriers to prevent any damage. But, what will the end result look like?

There’s lots of ways to get a sneak peak of what’s to come across our channels… you can watch our online animation or, take a 360 Virtual Reality tour. If you want a more in-depth idea of what to expect, the image below carefully details the precise layout of all the new trees and pavements of the final University Square design.

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University Square after landscaping

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Trees and the Green Heart

In recent days, University Square has been transformed in preparation for Green Heart landscaping. This has included the removal of 10 trees.

But why are you removing trees?

We can reassure you that the removal of these specific trees was well informed. The proposals for the development of the Green Heart were based on the findings and recommendations of an arboricultural impact assessment, and the design was developed with careful consideration to minimise the impact on campus’ important trees and to enhance tree cover and diversity across the site. This has been carefully scrutinised by the tree officer at Birmingham City Council and our proposals for this development have been granted planning approval.

Of the 216 trees assessed on campus, 72 were identified for removal (20 were categorised as being of moderate quality, 52 were categorised as being of low quality; including those in University Square). But, 144 trees will be retained and integrated. We will also plant 160 new trees! The vast majority of trees extracted needed to be removed regardless of whether the Green Heart went ahead. To minimise impact, we have ensured that this work has been supervised by a qualified ecologist (after bird nesting season), and root protection and construction exclusion zones are now being erected around existing trees in preparation for landscaping. To enhance sustainability, logs from the trees removed are being retained and will form a new habitat to the north of the Green Heart to encourage additional species of animals and insects to live on campus.

To ensure that the Green Heart is visually striking, the 160 new trees we are planting will be of different growth rates, from semi-mature to mature, from 5-7 metres in height. They are currently being lovingly cared for in a nursery under the supervision of key members of the project team.

Find out more details about trees and the Green Heart.

It’s National Parks Week

Did you know that today is the first day of National Parks Week? This week raises awareness of the National Parks annual celebration of everything that is unique and wonderful about our 15 National Parks. The UK’s National Parks include the Broads, New Forest, Exmoor and Snowdonia, each boasting their own special habitat and exciting family adventures. Our Parks are a place of peace, Britain’s breathing spaces, in an increasingly hectic, urban landscape. Perhaps it’s time you and your family recuperated and got out in nature?

The Green Heart’s 12 acres certainly won’t be able to compete with the likes of the New Forest, at a staggering 140,000 acres but, its aim is the same. We want to bring you a calm, serene and relaxing natural environment right at the heart of our country’s second city’s urban environment. We want it to be your oasis of escape, on your doorstep. With increased shade, new water features, improved sitting and lush grass areas, you’ll be able to unwind with ease.

So start looking forward to bringing your picnic in 2019 now; it’ll fly by!

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12 acres of parkland at the heart of campus

One of the UK’s best green spaces

Our Edgbaston campus has been recognised by the Green Flag Award Scheme as one of the very best green spaces in the world!

The University is among a record-breaking 1,797 UK parks and green spaces that will today receive a prestigious Green Flag Award; the mark of a quality park or green space. This international award, now into its third decade, is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.

Our stunning grounds are maintained by a 38 strong team of dedicated Grounds staff. They’re the first team on campus at 06:00am and are responsible for managing, beautifying and improving every inch of our 250 acre campus. One of their greatest achievements is developing a huge recycling and waste initiative.

Their next challenge will be helping to create the Green Heart, adding another 12 acres to our Green Flag campus. After a busy summer, the Grounds team will be planting over 100 new trees in the space including apple, cherry, beech, oak and maple.

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UoB’s Grounds and Gardens Team

Revamp your commute

Let’s be honest, before the recent hit show starring Peter Kay, had you ever thought about car sharing?  Probably not, but our guest blog from the Universities Sustainable Travel Co-ordinator Peter Edwards is here to change that.

The University is growing fast, with new buildings and projects popping up all over the place to improve the learning, teaching and leisure experience on campus. With perhaps the most exciting, of course, being the Green Heart. With this growth comes disruption to car parking, such as the closure of North Car Park after 13 July.  One potential solution to ease the pressure on car parking is to reduce the number of cars on campus.

Did you know our travel survey showed that there are loads of us living round the corner from each other driving on our own; maybe it’s time to get a travel buddy?

The University has a car sharing platform called Liftshare which acts as a car matching service for staff. Simply sign up, enter your location and working hours, and we will try to match you to other drivers in your area. Once you have a team, you’re eligible for a special permit which gives you access to 20 priority car parking spaces around campus.

Car sharing may not be suitable for everyone, and Liftshare may not be as sexy as Tinder but, we promise that you will probably have more success! It’ll save you money, time and stress, so why not sign up today? You never know, you might even make a friend!

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High five friends for car sharing