University of Leicester announces plans for £14 million residential conference facility

Posted by pt91 at May 18, 2011 10:42 AM |
Proposal would ‘breathe new life’ into redundant site
University of Leicester announces plans for £14 million residential conference facility

Artist's impression of the redeveloped College Hall. Credit: Associated Architects

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office by 18 May 2011

Artists’ impressions of proposed development available from pressoffice@le.ac.uk

The University of Leicester has announced a £14m project to transform a Grade II Listed building into a leading residential conference venue.

The University is planning to transform the five-acre former College Hall site in Knighton, which has not been used since 2005, into a high quality 117-en-suite bedroom conference facility with break out rooms, dining facilities and 150-seat lecture theatre.

Subject to planning permission, it will be the first time in the University’s history that an all-year round conference facility is available- currently residential conferences are only able to be held at University facilities during the holidays.  It would also allow the University to dedicate tailored facilities for academic and business conference needs.

UoL College Hall 001
Artist's impression of the redeveloped College Hall. Credit: Associated Architects

The proposed development, designed by Associated Architects of Birmingham,  will mean that all inward investment for conferences would be able to be considered which would generate additional income to contribute to the development of the University.

The announcement comes just weeks after the University of Leicester opened its £17 million refurbished Percy Gee Students’ Union building and announced its intention to develop a:

  • £30 million Medical teaching building
  • £12.6 million Cardiovascular Research Centre

In total the University has invested £50 million in the last three years alone and the University has an anticipated capital investment programme of over £200m over the next few years. Funding for the proposed development is from  a variety of sources including loans and reserves allocated for capital development.

Grant Charman, Deputy Director of Estates said the proposed development would breathe new life into the building that was completed in 1960.

Mr Charman said: “The Hall has been closed since 2005 and presents a difficult issue for the University in terms of how best to use the asset. Redevelopment is not straight forward due to the Listed building status, and we will work closely with the planners and English Heritage to bring the building back into use in a sympathetic way.”

College Hall was formerly a 180-bed student accommodation and had served this purpose for 45 years. Mr Charman added: “As student needs have changed, College Hall became inappropriate as a student hall- it was isolated from other students and there was also no opportunity for self-catered accommodation.

“We therefore believe that bringing the building back into use would enhance the site and prove to be an asset  for the University and the community.  This facility will enhance the status of the University, support research and teaching activities. One key aim of the development is to create a centre which allows the University to work in partnership with business and industry as set out in the University’s Strategic Vision to 2015.

“The centre would also take additional bookings such as weddings and other celebrations to supplement conferences  and provide a valuable asset for community use. We have already held a public consultation exercise and have received positive written and verbal feedback.”

College Hall Social Space
Artist's impression of the social space in the redeveloped building. Credit: Associated Architects

A particular feature of the development is the improvements proposed for the 17th Century Grade II Listed building The Grove at the rear of the site. This will be refurbished to provide hi-specification short-term accommodation for visiting academics.

Landscaping and planting would enhance the appearance of the proposed re-development and parking for 124 vehicles would be provided.  The site is adjacent to the University’s arboretum which also has parking facilities.

Plans are due to be submitted to the council at the end of May and, if successful, the aim is to complete development work in just over a year.

Ends

NOTES TO EDITORS

For more information contact University of Leicester press office: 0116 252 2415; pressoffice@le.ac.uk

About the site

The main buildings at College Hall are Grade II listed designed by Sir Leslie Martin and Trevor Dannatt around 1957 and completed by 1960. There are three bedroom blocks A, B and C a central facilities building for catering with further bedrooms above block D and a garage block with bedrooms above block E.

The buildings are arranged around formal courtyards focused on the central amenity building. Blocks are generally of three stories constructed in brick.

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