College Expansion Plans Deferred by Council

Royal Holloway’s plan to expand the university buildings by 2031, to cater for a forecasted increase in students, has been opposed by Runnymede Borough Council during a meeting with Councillors. The plans, which would see the University look to buy further property in Englefield Green to transform into new halls of residence, and to create improved access points to campus, were deferred mainly on grounds that the College had not planned to provide enough parking space for the predicted increase in students.

The ‘Masterplan’, originally submitted in January, has already been forced into a period of revision following meetings with the council as a proposed new accommodation block on Noble’s Field, which is currently used for sports, did not adhere with ‘greenbelt’ requirements. Consequently, the development of university buildings is now focused on the north side of the campus, in Englefield Green. The planned development comes after the College predicts that by 2031 the number of students enrolled at the College will have increased to 12,000.

If the plan is eventually approved, work will include the demolition of buildings including The Beeches and The Chestnuts, in order to make room for bigger accommodation buildings. Yet this has reportedly provoked over 120 letters from residents in the Englefield Green area, concerned over increased noise at night and further traffic congestion due to an increase in students. The main concern, however, which caused the deferral was the lack of provision of parking given the predicted rise in the student population; the plans only made provision for a further 10 parking spaces on campus, though it also a included a plan to redistribute spaces on campus, with thoughts of a multi-story car park being possible.

During the meeting which took place on October 8th, Councillors stated they believed the plan’s treatment of increased traffic had been ‘rushed’. In previous meetings residents of Englefield Green have dubbed the plans ‘disproportionate’, however the College maintains that the expansion is necessary in order to ensure Royal Holloway maintains its status as a ‘world-leading’ university.

The outcome of the meeting saw the University’s plans deferred until Surrey Highways provides further data on the traffic in the area, notably the A30, so that suitable amendments can subsequently be made.