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Opinion: Vet School Will Not Preclude the Construction of Further Student Accommodation

Published on: 24 Dec, 2013
Updated on: 24 Dec, 2013

Vet School 2By Greg Melly,

Vice-President, University of Surrey

I read with interest Rob Burch’s opinion piece “Will New Vet School Slow Down Accommodation Construction?” There are, in my view, some points of clarification and correction needed and I am happy to provide them below.

Firstly, I think it is important to take a moment to properly focus on the importance of the construction of a new Veterinary School. This development represents a substantial investment in the town, the region and the discipline as a whole. The £45 million state-of-the-art facilities will provide a stimulating environment for both undergraduate students and the professional development of qualified veterinary surgeons.

Opinion Logo 2By uniting academics and local partners under the banner of “one health”, we intend to provide forward-thinking interdisciplinary research and teaching to improve the health of humans and animals. Over 700 people have already applied to take the 45 places on the first course that will begin in September 2014 and we are hugely excited about the benefits that the new School will bring.

Part of the site identified for the new school was previously identified as land where student residences were to be built, but this does not preclude those residences from being provided elsewhere on the university’s Manor Park Campus. On the contrary, our current plans are to bring forward the next phase of residences on land north and north east of the vet school main building.

We have already spent over £80m on building 1,750 units of student accommodation over the past seven years, and we are committed to continuing this programme in the future. So, to be clear, the vet school does not present any challenges to building residences at Manor Park.

The university understands and shares Mr Burch’s concerns about the levels of housing need in Guildford Borough. Our staff members are Guildford residents, they are proud of what the borough represents and would very much like to live within close proximity of their place of work. But, for many, Guildford house prices are out of reach and they too have to tolerate the commute into town on a daily basis, participating in the “traffic chaos” to which Mr Burch refers.

We have articulated, through the Local Plan consultation process, our views on what we think can be done about Guildford’s housing and infrastructure need, and we have shared those views openly. We do not believe that development can be avoided, but along with many others we fully appreciate that it needs to be carefully planned for from a social, environment and an infrastructure point of view.

It is in everyone’s interests, including those of the university and our staff, to ensure that any further housing development in the area is fully supported by the roads, schools and community facilities that are required to help Guildford Borough and its people to thrive.

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test One Response to Opinion: Vet School Will Not Preclude the Construction of Further Student Accommodation

  1. Lisa Wright Reply

    January 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Firstly, Mr Melly has not stated when the student accommodation, for which you already have planning permission, will be built. It is imperative that the university takes it’s responsibility seriously to take students out of private homes in the Onslow, Park Barn, Stoughton and Westborough regions to free up houses for local residents and decrease the grid lock of vehicles and over stretched facilities in those areas.

    Mr Melly refer to the university providing human medical teaching facilities. What are the building plans for this expansion in terms of student accommodation and teaching facilities?

    No doubt the University of Surrey has projections of students enrolments for the next decade. Can they say how many students, covering all courses, including the new Veterinary School and Proposed Medicine courses, the University expects to enrol in 2024? How many of those will be housed in on-site student accommodation and how many will need alternative rental accommodation in Guildford?

    Referring to the proposed ‘Garden Neighbourhood’ on the AONB, AGLV and green belt between the Hog’s Back and Wood Street Village, how many of the proposed properties will be ‘affordable’ or available for social housing?

    Lastly, does the university have further plans to purchase open farmland in the borough to feed it’s need for increasing expansion?

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