Jan 10 2013 by Rob Pattinson, Ormskirk Advertiser
EDGE Hill’s plans to create a state-of-the- art new Creative Edge media building and build 144 more student homes on campus are set to be approved.
The two separate applications by the university will be considered at a meeting of West Lancs planning committee tonight.
The homes bid, which would see the new accommodation housed in two new three-storey blocks, is a new phase of development in the central area of the campus close to St Helens Road.
The proposed new media hub would be sited in the eastern part of the university’s St Helens Road site and allow students to capitalise on the BBC’s move to Salford.
Three residents objected to the student homes scheme, on the grounds that the proposals were too close to St Helens Road, that it will destroy the “historic feel” of the entrance to the original buildings, and that more students will result in increased noise, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
Ormskirk Community Partnership objected to both schemes, citing that the homes plan is not part of the masterplan, that there is a lack of evidence for demand, that the council’s policies are being ignored and that the effect on the town from the recently- built university accommodation should be assessed first.
Its opposition to the media hub stemmed from the development being an area the partnership claims was marked as future development in the masterplan, concerns over the “very brief” ecological report and lack of dark corridors provided for bats.
In a report to go before the planning committee, both schemes are recommended for approval.
Regarding the media hub application, the report states that while the proposal “clearly constitutes” inappropriate Green Belt development, the benefits to the economy and community – as well as the fact the land is earmarked for Green Belt release in the emerging Local Plan – justified very special circumstances.
Edge Hill vice- chancellor John Cater said that Creative Edge was designed to ensure that the university's media production and IT students had access to industry-standard facilities on a par with those used by the BBC at Salford Quays.
He said: “In neither [the media hub or student homes plan] is the development predicated on any increase whatsoever in student numbers.
“Rather, they are part of our continuing commitment to ensuring that the university has one of the very best campuses available in British higher education.”
Welcoming the council officer’s recommendations that both schemes be approved, he said: “We look forward to both the employment opportunities the developments will create and the superb new academic and residential facilities we will be able to offer future generations of undergraduates and postgraduates.”