Imperial College London is considering joint venturing with a private sector firm to develop a major part of its planned 23-acre Imperial West campus in White City, west London.

Martin Summersgill, director of estates masterplanning and development at Imperial, shared the university’s development plans at the Built Environment Networking event on ‘London Universities Investment Plans 2014’, held in Westminster Central Hall.

Imperial is considering joint venturing on the southern portion of its planned Imperial West campus, an 11.5-acre former Dairy Crest site it bought from insurer Aviva and development partner Helical Bar last year.

Summersgill said Imperial is considering joint venturing on the development, known as Imperial West South, because it is likely to feature a mix of uses, including commercial offices and private residential, rather than “100% college [buildings]”.

Summersgill added: “We have such a close relationship with industry we expect this to be something where there’s a mix of the college and industry and commerce working alongside the college, which will be quite unique.”

Imperial is currently masterplanning Imperial West South and will “potentially” submit the scheme for planning next Spring, Summersgill said.

Construction work on the first two buildings on the northern part of the planned Imperial West campus, Imperial West North, is scheduled to begin next month, with the other five buildings to be built out by 2021.

Senior executives at three other London universities – Kingston University London, University of West London and Brunel University London – also told the event they are planning major development work.

But the four panellists agreed uncertainty around funding arrangements for universities made committing to capital projects difficult.

David Bannister, director of estates at Brunel, said the university was “not planning more than two years in advance at the moment because of uncertainty around fees”.

The five clients also discussed their development pipelines and strategies in more detail –

IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON

Imperial College London is based across several sites in west London, with a main campus in South Kensington. In 2010 and 2013 it acquired a total of 23 acres of brownfield land in White City near the BBC Television Centre to be developed in to a major new campus, Imperial West.

Opportunities

    • Imperial plans to develop between 2.5 and 3.5 million sq ft of space at Imperial West. The campus is split by the A40 Westway Flyover into Imperial West North and Imperial West South.
    • At Imperial West North, construction work will begin on the first two buildings “in the next couple of months”, with completion scheduled for 2017. Four further buildings on this campus will be built out by 2020/21.
    • At Imperial West South, Imperial is currently in the midst of masterplan design development for the site, which it expects to continue until the end of the year, with a view to potentially submitting plans for outline planning approval in Q2 2015. Imperial doesn’t envisage Imperial West South will be “100% college” and is instead considering a “mix of college and industry and commercial buildings that will work alongside the college” and may consider a “joint venture”. Early plans suggest residential to offices to laboratories ratios of 50:25:25, 30:45:25 or 10:65:25. The university will begin planning a sequence of which operations should move from the South Kensington campus to Imperial West South from the autumn through to next summer and expects schemes to be incorporated into its capital plans from 2016/7.
    • Ongoing capital projects over the next ten to twenty years at South Kensington campus to renew aging parts of the estate (70% of the stock here was built before 1975). The campus has low additional development capacity. “There’s a need for an over-arching masterplan here to guide capital spends,” Summersgill added.

 

Strategy

Imperial’s plans at White City will be complemented by major developments along Wood Lane by the BBC and Stanhope at BBC Television Centre, Westfield shopping centre’s expansion and a scheme by developer St James. Imperial is planning public realm improvements along Wood Lane to help transform it “into a genuine urban boulevard providing a prominent address to the redevelopment and regeneration projects along its edges.” Summersgill warned Imperial West South is “quite a difficult site”, constrained by major highways, railways and underground lines. “The good news is it’s great for transport infrastructure, but maybe it’s a bit too close for comfort,” he said. Imperial wants the campus to “retain as much flexibility as we can”. Key design priorities at Imperial West South are creating areas of new public realm and open space, improving transport connectivity and creating quality urban design. A new campus boulevard and new squares will run down the spine of Imperial West South.

KINGSTON UNIVERSITY LONDON

Kingston University is based across five campuses in suburban Kingston, South-west London. It has 20,000 students, 2,000 staff and a turnover of £200m. It currently has an £80m construction development pipeline. Kingston has various specialisms, including fashion, for which it is ranked fourth in the world. The university’s fashion and design faculties are based at its Knights Park campus.

Opportunities

  • A £50m replacement for Kingston’s Town House building, designed by Grafton Architects, who were selected after a design competition. Kingston issued an OJEU for the main contractor role this month – a two stage design and build job.
  • The second phase of Kingston’s Knights Park development (refurbishment work) will come to market next year.
  • From 2015 to 2025, Kingston is planning further investment at Knights Park, consolidation of its Roehampton operation to its Penrhyn Road campus, an office refurbishment at Penrhyn Road and potentially developing a new indoor sports facility.

Strategy

As part of Kingston’s estate rationalisation plans, it is considering rolling out more open plan offices and altering its car parking provision, both of which are proving controversial with academics. “If two phrases strike fear in the hearts of academics it’s ‘open plan offices’ and ‘car parking’,” said Neil Latham, Kingston University’s pro vice-chancellor for corporate affairs. Latham said the university “needs responses to our tenders that are highly innovative” and added “we’re looking for someone we trust, so we have the confidence you can deliver.”

UNIVERSITY OF WEST LONDON

The University of West London, formerly known as Thames Valley University, has rationalised down its estate in recent years from five campuses to consolidate its operations in Ealing and Brentford. It has sold off two campuses in Reading and is in the process of selling a third in Slough. It has done this as it “could not support five campuses” and was previously making “£5m to £6m a year losses”, according to Professr Peter John, vice chancellor of the university. The rationalisation enables the university to invest in its main Ealing campus. It currently has 12,000 students and a £100m per annum income. Its estate comprises 500,000 sq ft across Ealing and Brentford. It bills itself as ‘London’s vocational university’.

Opportunities

  • The university is planning £90m of development under its ‘Ambition 2018’ strategic plan.
  • Phase one is £50m of work, half of which will be invested in refurbishing the university’s existing estate and the other half will be invested in new-build work, including a library, performance space, a student union, a refectory and space for student services.
  • Phase two is £40m of work, including a new sports centre, developing space for specialist teaching space and linking up with Ealing Council’s plans for a wider ‘cultural quarter’.
  • The university is currently tendering for a private sector facilities management firm to take over management of its estate.

Strategy

The university is buying up houses adjacent to its campus to create space for expansion. It will consider developing houses for private sale – either densely on its existing campus or off-site – to generate funds for further academic capital projects. John admitted the university is constrained: “It is difficult to grow in a tight urban environment, we’re based in a very, very compressed area.” John cited speed, trust, price and quality as key priorities when tendering.

BRUNEL UNIVERSITY LONDON

Brunel is a 40-year-old university based in Uxbridge, west London.

Opportunities

  • The university has a £300m ten-year development plan, which includes developing accommodation for the science, technology, engineering and maths subjects, research facilities, academic conference facilities, additional sports facilities, teaching facilities and an energy centre.
  • Brunel is aiming to bring forward plans for a £30m learning teaching centre in “a couple of years”.
  • Brunel is searching for a private sector partner to “fund, build and operate” a sports centre development.
  • Brunel is working up plans for a student refectory development.

Strategy

Brunel favours single stage design and build tendering. Brunel is prioritising co-locating colleges and faculties together and generally improving its estate to attract students. It is also investing in reducing its carbon footprint and maintenance costs and Bannister said “the conversation between us and suppliers is really important so you understand our needs.”