David Chiddick, Lincoln University's vice-chancellor, is on a mission to help Lincoln realise its potential as "one of the world's great small cities" and safeguard the region's future.
Professor Chiddick, who is a former town planner, has put together a vision of how the historic cathedral city might look in 2020, amid concerns that the area faces decline and economic isolation.
"We need imagination - a bold vision of Lincoln in the future as a basis for planning the city. Most of all, we need the collective will to make it happen and recognition of the missed opportunity if we fail," he said.
Professor Chiddick faces criticism from civic leaders in Hull over his plans to dramatically reduce the university's presence on the Humber, just a few years after changing its name from Lincolnshire and Humberside University.
He has developed his vision for Lincoln with the help of the city's council, clergy, citizens and regional businesses, who were all "very supportive", he said.
Lincoln had to absorb the rapidly developing university, Professor Chiddick said. "There is recognition that the city is getting a higher profile because of the university, and the cathedral in turn is getting a higher profile."
Professor Chiddick's report, Vision 2020 , deals with the need to bolster the Lincolnshire economy - and not just by providing jobs within the university.
"Lincolnshire covers an enormous area. Some 5 per cent is agricultural businesses, and that's a failing economy. There is now a recognition that we need some big initiatives to redress some of the economic problems it has had," Professor Chiddick said.
The document proposes designating the cathedral quarter a World Heritage Site in 2010, making the city a world leader in the new media and creative industries and appointing an executive mayor of Lincoln.
The vision will also mean boosting the region's health service. "We have no medical school or local courses for health, and as a result it is difficult to recruit people (20 GP were recently recruited from Spain), but that's beginning to change. Our nursing programmes start this year," he said.
Professor Chiddick said that while the document was visionary, it was grounded in reality and the university had a catalytic role to play.
"Academics are finding their way here. If we can get people to Lincoln, they say this is a great place to be. We now have to move from being a project to a fully functional university that's entirely integrated with its surroundings," he said.
John Hayes, MP for South Holland and The Deepings, welcomed the university's contribution but said the rural, agricultural nature of the county should not be ignored.
Barry Singleton, joint deputy leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said that the council had yet to consider the findings.
AN INSPIRATIONAL FUTURE OR ON THE ROAD TO RUIN?
What if the vision works?
- A city networked socially as a community, locally and globally, with excellent transport and electronic communications
- A city at the leading edge of UK creative industries, with university and industry working in partnership
- Lifestyle and work in harmony with exemplary health and social services
- Historic cathedral city in which conservation and tradition are complemented by modern architecture and attractive urban spaces
What if it does not?
- Lincoln(shire) stands to decline still further as the most failing economy in the East Midlands and one of the weakest economies in Britainn The city becomes more isolated nationally and more congested
- Unemployment rises while key health service jobs remain unfilled
- The urban/rural divide grows wider
- Lincoln becomes a run-down city with a poorly maintained cathedral