New university campus set to open in under 18 months and will 'bring life back to Northampton' says Vice Chancellor
A major milestone in the construction of a Â£330million university campus in Northampton has begun the countdown to its grand opening in September 2018.
The University of Northampton's new 58-acre Waterside Campus was presented to industry chiefs at its 'topping out' ceremony today (April 25).
The campus will be home to 14,000 students and 2,000 staff, with 1,000 students living in a new accommodation village on site.
Vice Chancellor of the University of Northampton, Prof Nick Petford, said: "I'm amazed at the pace the buildings have come out of the ground. We've taken a brownfield site and made it into a 21st-century campus with a new generation of buildings.
"Bringing our students together on one campus is going to bring this side of town to life. It will be new cash and new energy and can only help rejuvenate Northampton."
The topping out ceremony saw a final glass balustrade on the new Senate Building get secured in place by the Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, David Lang.
He said: "Only 30 miles away and a few hundred years ago, Northampton had a campus that was the great institution of learning outside of London. Now, we are building a campus that will let us be heard around the country, around Europe and around the world."
Currently, the university is spread over the Avenue Campus, in St George's Avenue, and the Park Campus, in Boughton Green Road.
When the Waterside Campus opens, the other two campuses will be closed and the land sold for housing.
John Kirkland, group chairman for Bowmer & Kirkland, who is leading the Waterside project, said: "This is the biggest new campus built in the country since the 1960s and one of the biggest projects we've undertaken.
"The construction so far has been worth about Â£1 million a week. We are on budget, on schedule and on target.
"I can't wait to see the campus come to life in September 2018. It will bolster the university and bolster Northampton."
A new pedestrian bridge connecting the town centre and the campus is also planned.
Up to 1,000 students will also live on site in an accommodation village made from a mixture of five-storey flats and four-storey townhouses with a doctor's surgery, cafe and convenience shops.
Prof Petford said: "We understand that parking will be an issue as there just isn't room for all the students and staff we will have on site
"We're working closely with the borough council and county council to find a solution."
Nick McQuaid, contract manager for the project, said: "We are 14 months into the project and we are exactly where we want to be.
"There are five main teaching buildings going up but I'm especially excited by The Creative Hub. the shape of it makes it look almost like a cruise ship and will bring the wow-factor when you walk on campus."
The construction was guaranteed by a Â£231.5million bond from HM Treasury. This was the first time HM Treasury has guaranteed a university bond.
Another Â£60 million funding came from Northampton Borough Council and Northamptonshire County Council.