Repair bill may drive Swansea from home

November 18, 2005

Swansea University is considering the drastic step of relocating to the small neighbouring town of Llanelli after consultants revealed that its main campus needs £32 million of emergency maintenance and repairs.

A report by consultants, Actium Consult, commissioned by the university to look at ways of expanding and improving its buildings, concludes that the 1950s seafront campus is too cramped to allow future growth.

Senior officials at the university stressed that they would prefer to redevelop the university on its existing sites, but said that they would also consider the more radical option of moving outside the city to provide the best deal for staff and students.

They are also exploring whether to sell off the 1,666-capacity student village in the city's Hendrefoilan area for about £25 million to help raise money for future expansion plans.

Richard Davies, Swansea vice-chancellor, said: "We have one of the best locations of any university in the world, and redeveloping this site would be our preferred option. However, we have to look at all the options and ensure that our students and staff get the best possible deal.

"There will be extensive discussions within the university and with our stakeholders before we decide how to move forward. I hope we will be in a position to make a decision by the end of this academic year."

The consultant's report offers three options for the university, which is home to more than 10,000 students and 1,800 staff. The first two options envisage redevelopments either on the central university site where Fulton House and Union House currently stand, or another site between the halls of residence and Singleton Hospital. The third option, however, considers an alternative location either at Llanelli's Delta Lakes development site or at the Felindre steel plant site off the M4 motorway at Llangyfelach.

"Swansea University has to expand if it going to meet the needs of its increasing numbers of staff and students," Professor Davies said.

"Our existing building stock, which dates largely from the Fifties and Sixties, just won't be suitable in the long-term."

Peter Townsend, Swansea pro vice-chancellor, said of the possible sale of the student village: "We are looking at (selling) Hendrefoilan because it is a valuable site right in the middle of a housing area. We are conscious how much value is tied up in that site. One option is to sell it, and another is to lease it to someone such as a housing association who would run it."

Julia Cutmore, president of theJJAssociation of University Teachers at Swansea, said: "I think the critical point is that the teachers and students have not yet been consulted and we are reeling from this announcement. There is bound to be concern about a move. Llanelli is a very different place to Swansea. It might have a major effect on what type of staff and students are attracted to the university."

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