Having just heard about the sale of the library building to the County Council, including 3 acres of land, I would like to ask the following on my behalf and also as I have been asked this by current students?
1. How will the reduction in parking that is bound to happen at Stafford be addressed as we have lost 3 acres? I dare say the exec car parking spaces will not be sacrificed! Where exactly will the boundaries be? How will we stop the parking fiasco that happens at Stoke not happening at Stafford?
2. How will the fact that classes happen in the bottom of the octagon now, and labs are full up be addressed if we will lose labs to the library – how will this help student experience? Especially as this will happen from January and classes are currently scheduled to happen in that space. As it is our specialist lab is timetabled 9-8 most days to fit our current students in. Also the current timetabling plan for students will not allow classes to happen after 6pm for daytime students
3. How will the fact that the library is open until much later than the octagon building is now, and is often open almost 24 hours?
4. How come the students were not asked about this, as most of the ones I have spoken to are angry at this decision.
5. How does this move actually help student experience, as the space at the bottom of the octagon does not equate at all to the space in the library
6. Why could the library not move into the Beacon and say reduce the exec space held now? The Beacon has more free space now as Engineering has moved out – after all this move is for ‘student experience’. Or even better sell Blackheath lane to allow the school to be built there (still opposite Weston Road), and move the Nursing school to Beaconside – thus helping the gender balance
7. Will we loose our walking access to the technology park – the link being something that encourages new businesses to spring up there
Please can we get an answer to this asap as most ‘controversial’ ask execs seem to get ignored.
We are not anticipating any loss of car parking that would make any difference to the usage of the site. We have too much space in Stafford and this is a sensible means of removing some excess space that generates income that can be utilised well. The library will operate as it is for the remainder of the year and will move into the lower part of the Octagon. The activities that currently utilise that space will move elsewhere. There will be no loss of service through this move.
More detailed answers to your specific points can be found below.
1) There will be no loss of car parking that makes any difference to the usage of the site. Whilst it sounds like a lot of land, it is actually a small parcel of the whole site.
2) Appropriate replacements rooms have been agreed with Estates by representatives from the faculties concerned. The plan for the decant to these new spaces is being undertaken with a target of minimum disruption to the teaching already timetabled. Faculty technical staff are fully involved and engaged with the planning process.
3) I see this as an advantage (assuming that the changes planned can include the access and security monitoring of specialist lab spaces). Student access can be greatly improved by the clustering of resources like this. My view of a long-term viable campus (irrespective of the Estates Strategy) will include this clustering as a key ingredient due to the prohibitive cost of specialist technical equipment.
4) For reasons of confidentiality and commercial sensitivity, this matter could only go through University Committees. In addition to which there is no reduction in service, rather an improvement in many ways. In addition, Students’ Union representatives were aware owing to their membership of university committees. Kris Winpenny has already contacted me (7th October) to request his inclusion in the planning group which moves the project forward. I have already informed Kris that his involvement is very welcome.
5) Two points come to mind here, one being my answer to point 3 (above) but also Nelson was always in a relatively distant corner of the campus and accessing it during the evening meant a detour. By relocating the library into the Octagon it will become part of the heart of the campus creating a more vibrant atmosphere moving forward.
6) This was considered by the group which included representatives from the faculties but it was agreed for the reasons above that the best location was the Octagon.
7) I will need to check this further, but my understanding is that there will not be an impact upon this access.
Professor Michael Gunn LLB, FRSA
Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive