Multiple solution

November 26, 2015

The recent article “Has the multi-campus university had its day?” is a fashion statement (19 November).

The use of terms such as “criminal”, “short-sighted” and “disgrace” by critics of London Metropolitan University’s one-campus plan to uproot the Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design from Aldgate, refers to a threat. There is a constellation of civic as well as educational values at stake. These are not addressed by such vacuous descriptors as “gleaming”, “stylish” and “hum”, which are normally used to recommend shopping arcades.

There is a big difference between a plan “appear[ing] to make good financial sense” and constructing a functional, collegiate university with a social purpose. Middlesex University’s abandoned plans to rebuild its Tottenham campus entailed abandoning a community and its hopes for the future. Estates do not just comprise “ageing, tired buildings”, or inherited assets ripe for disposal, they also entail civic and community responsibilities, and decades of public investment – a fact recognised in planning law.

London Met straddles two equally important areas of the city. A two-campus solution is, very arguably, a better fit. Or should the views of all the local East End stakeholders just be brushed aside?

Helen Mallinson
Director of Cass culture and course leader for critical and contextual studies
London Metropolitan University


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