THE UNIVERSITY of Northampton has confirmed it is considering plans to move to a new site in the town, ending months of speculation about a possible shift to the town centre.
In a statement issued to staff, the university’s vice chancellor, Nick Petford, confirmed the university was in the early stages of plans to move away from the current Park and Avenue campuses to one new location.
He said: “We are currently reviewing the possibility of a future relocation of the university’s two Northampton campuses to a new site as part of our on-going estates masterplan.
“At this early stage, our investigations are purely exploratory and any proposed outcomes must be approved by our governing council.”
The announcement came after the university was granted planning permission to build 464 new student flats in the town centre and followed speculation the establishment may be planning a move to the site of the town’s former power station, off Bedford Road, close to Becket’s Park.
The university has not yet confirmed the exact site it is looking at for a new joint campus, but the leader of Northampton Borough Council, Councillor David Mackintosh (Con, Rectory Farm) welcomed any move which would be closer to the town centre.
He said: “Any move closer to the heart of the town is great for Northampton. Planning permission was granted for the new student accommodation only a few weeks ago and talks have been going on with the university for a number of months.
“Northampton is now truly a university town, so this news can only be seen as a good thing.”
The university’s modern history stretches back to 1924 when Northampton Technical College opened in St George’s Avenue. Margaret Thatcher then opened the College of Education at the Park Campus in 1972.
In 1999, Nene College, as it was then known, became University College Northampton and in 2005, the college was awarded full university status.
When the university was given planning permission to build 464 student flats on the St John’s car park site earlier this month, the university said the move would bring £2.9 million into the town’s economy each year.
The flats will be based just a short walk from the former power station site.