Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Development on Aberystwyth University's Penglais Campus - a retrospective


In another post concerns were raised over the future of Llanbadarn Campus. However the University's Penglais campus, visited and used by many thousands of people every year, is increasingly under threat of development. There are rumours of new buildings, though no official announcements have taken place. Any new buildings would impact on greenfield sites. Even if they were built on a car park, a car park would then be created on a greenfield site (as happened with the International Politics building), so the impact on green sites is the same. Below are some images cataloguing a few of the changes and views of the last ten years, in no particular order. CIN members would like to thank everyone who submitted photos and information for this piece - please keep the photos and comments coming in. Aberystwyth Arts Centre is covered in separate posts.

The view across the campus. It shows clearly why the green spaces should be maintained, not built on.




The International Politics building - opened in July 2006 when the department moved from its existing building. The view to the sea is now blocked from a number of places by this building - and the University built a new car park on a green space to recover the spaces lost to this building.


The car park that was a green grassy bank until the Interpol building was constructed. A weekly email on the University website at the time said this was a temporary car park. Since then it has quietly become a permanent one.


Another view of the car park.


The Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, opened in 2000, with a later Centre for Performance Research extension built.

The Centre for Performance Research extension - brutal architecture favoured by Aberystwyth University, and gravel instead of greenery


The visualisation studio, opened October 2007. This involved relocating car park spaces and cutting down trees.


Which looks best - the bland new building on the left or the traditional building on the right?


An increasingly common sight (or should that be site?) on Penglais. Photo taken August 2008


This site used to be static homes for student accomodation. They have now been demolished - what will happen here?


Bye bye trees. This is a common sight too. Where are all the new plantings? August 2008.


Letter from the Cambrian News (8 January 2004, p3) - nothing changes!

November 2002 - Construction of the Sports Science Department begins, and another wood disappears

There are so many photos of this that it deserves its own section. It is also one of the rare occasions where a detailed record was taken before and after construction. Most of the images speak for themselves.

First let us look at some images of the site before the University's contractors moved in - apparently taken on the 28th August 2002. It is clear that this was a beautiful wooded area.

















Note the planning notice - such an innocuous-looking bit of paper, that heralds such irreversible change.

And now we can see what it looked like after most of the trees were cut down...


The planning application said "some trees" would be cut down for access, and most of the area would be concreted over. This is what the area looked like as construction began and "some trees" had been cut down.


Saturday 16th November 2002 - workmen were observed cutting down the massive trees. On speaking to them, they said they had cut down 52 trees that day - and that they were going to cut a lot more down.


A satellite image of the area of trees that were cut down for the new department. Note that this satellite image was taken BEFORE the trees were cut!


















This area also used to be trees and bushes - it has been hacked in order to 'aid access to the site'. It is over the road from the new building.


The impact of heavy construction vehicles.


This used to be a wood.


Another tree marked for death - by a yellow cross.




The company hired by the University to destroy all those trees, 'Stradform - Building a Reputation'. Certainly building a reputation for destroying nature! They are part of the Fifehead Group.

Conclusion
Some people we spoke to were very concerned about the future of the campus if more buildings go ahead. It should be added that there is such strong feeling on issues like this because people feel such a strong sense of ownership over beautiful places where they spend their time or work or visit. This piece, which incorporates some comments from people who have spoken to CIN members, stems from a desire to show what can be lost forever if those who look after land do not take care. It is not just an attempt to lambast Aberystwyth University, which attempts to balance many difficult demands. Nonetheless, many people seemed to think that not enough attention was paid to preserving and enhancing the natural areas of the lands the University owns. We are all only custodians of the land; we need to make sure we hand it to the next generation unspoilt.

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