Building work on new University of Northampton campus could start in 2015

The site of three new bridges between Nunn Mills Road and Ransome Road.
The site of three new bridges between Nunn Mills Road and Ransome Road.

The vice-chancellor of the University of Northampton has said he hopes building work will start on a new £330 million town centre campus in 2015.

A deal was agreed yesterday for the Avon Nunn Mills site, which covers 20 hectares of brownfield land along the River Nene, to be converted into a new campus for the university.

Under the terms of the agreement between the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC) and the university and the three main landowners Avon Cosmetics, Taylor Wimpey UK Ltd and Persimmon Homes Ltd the primary objective is a new university campus.

However, the current landowners will be putting forward plans to potentially deliver an alternative mixed-use scheme in the event the university plans do not come to fruition.

Professor Nick Petford, vice chancellor of The University of Northampton, said: “This new Waterside Campus will place us in the heart of the community.

“It is a hugely exciting project with an investment of more than £330m. If it progresses as we hope, we could be moving in to start ground work in 2015, with the campus opening sometime between 2018 and 2020”

In March 2012, WNDC launched a compulsory purchase order (CPO) for the whole site, but with the deal agreed with the landowners, the proposed CPO now only covers land required for a new road through the site.

A spokesperson for Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon said “This is a groundbreaking agreement that we have reached with the University of Northampton and we will be doing everything we can to see the dream of the new campus becoming a reality.

“We are committed to the economic growth of Northampton and look forward to working with their major projects team on this exciting regeneration”

A spokesman for Avon Cosmetics said: “We are delighted that we have come to this crucial agreement and wholeheartedly support the relocation of the University of Northampton to the Avon Nunn Mills site.

“Having developed our own award-winning office on the site, we are very excited to work with the University of Northampton and see their new campus become a reality and look forward to having them as our neighbour.”

Peter Mawson, WNDC’s Chief Executive said: “This is a truly momentous agreement for Northampton. Avon Nunn Mills has been largely derelict for over a decade, but we now have certainty that it will be redeveloped.

“Clearly, the University campus would have huge economic benefits for the town and beyond. We look forward to working in partnership to deliver this flagship scheme”

Under the terms, If all of these joint plans fail, WNDC will have an opportunity to purchase the whole site.

The public inquiry into the CPO closed yesterday and a final decision from the Secretary of State is expected in Spring 2013.