Cornish 'campus' plans unveiled

February 4, 2000

The latest plans for a university in Cornwall will be announced next week, after years of wrangling over sites.

The "hub" of the project is now believed to be at Tremough, near Penryn, where Falmouth College of Art and Design recently established a campus in a former convent.

The college has submitted an outline planning application for a phased development to cater for 1,500 full-time equivalent students by 2005, including student accommodation, a sports hall and car-parking.

Media courses for a few hundred students have been taking place on the site since late last year.

As part of its application, the college identifies possible further development that would allow student numbers to grow to 2,500 by 2010. It suggests this number could eventually double if it exercised options to buy more land to the southwest of the site.

John Pender, chief assistant planning officer of development control at Kerrier Council, said the application appeared to be simply a request from Falmouth College of Arts, which has outgrown its present site, to expand its second campus.

But he added: "The impression seems to be gained from a number of people that this is the university for Cornwall."

The overall scheme, run jointly between Falmouth College of Arts, Exeter and Plymouth universities, the higher education college of St Mark and St John, based in Plymouth, and four further education colleges, will also involve a "distributed" element, with a number of outlying centres to make it accessible to people in areas with poor transport.

Jonathan Burnett, principal of Truro College, said the distributed part of the scheme was key. "It is important that provision is developed significantly at both HND and degree levels because travel is difficult in a place like Cornwall," he said.

The scheme is likely to benefit from Cornwall's Objective One status, which gives the region access to extra European money for the next seven years. Other resources are expected to come from the private sector and a number of companies are expressing interest.

St Ives MP Andrew George insisted that the scheme must take account of Cornwall's modern-day needs. "We want departments that will reflect some of the economic importance of Cornwall and develop its environmental potential, not just tourism," he said.

Details of the proposed scheme will be announced next Thursday. If approved, work could start before the end of the year.

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