Future of University of Hertfordshire revealed?

STUDENT lodging capacity could almost double at the University of Hertfordshire if new plans to overhaul the campus get rubber stamped.

An application has been lodged with Welwyn Hatfield Council to knock down existing accommodation at the Hatfield site which currently houses 1,059 people and replace them with 21 halls that could home 2,511 students.

The planning application states: “The proposed development comprises: Proposed demolition of existing halls of residence (totalling 1,059 bedspaces), the erection of replacement student residences (2,511 bedspaces) and the provision of an energy centre, external landscaping, car parking and ancillary supporting facilities including open space and recreation.”

It goes on to explain: “The architectural and landscape design are of a high quality contemporary design with outstanding levels of environmental sustainability and reflect the university’s aspirations to ‘offer students and staff a high quality learning and teaching experience, respond to the competitive nature of the higher education sector and also help reduce our carbon footprint’.”

It is not just housing that will be revamped, with administration buildings and sports facilities set to be retained and expanded.

The project is part of a move to bring more students into the campus and provide them with high quality facilities.

Disabled students would benefit from the refurbishment with one room in 150 to be made wheelchair friendly – a 50 per cent boost on what is there currently.

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Hatfield residents have previously aired concerns about the university and its students, largely over parking and the numbers of private houses being lost to student lets.

But the current move has been welcomed by a Hatfield town and borough councillor.

Cllr Kim Langley said: “I think it is a brilliant idea and it looks like a fantastic design.

“It will provide more housing for students inside the university which may free up houses in Hatfield.”

She added: “I don’t want it to be a separate thing, I like the university and I adore Hatfield.

“We have a good university that every year is going from strength to strength.

“We have a community partnership which is getting more and more help to the students in Hatfield.

“However, with more students on university land I can see what the university is saying – they can give more students more of the university experience.”

If approved, the work would be done in three phases and take place from 2013-16, with the first wave of building starting next year.

? A successful Freshers Fair was held at the uni last week. For more on this see next week’s WHT.