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Major expansion for Peterborough university approved

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A second teaching building at Peterborough university, which will incorporate a ‘Living Lab’ public science centre, has been approved by city planners.

On Tuesday (December 13) Peterborough City Council planning committee approved the third phase of the ARU Peterborough university campus on the north of the Embankment site, off Bishop’s Road.

The new development will be on the site of the Regional Pool car park, next to first teaching building, University House, which opened to students in September.

The second campus building, the Innovation and Research Centre, is currently planned to open in Summer 2023.


The Living Lab will be an interactive science centre and education space aimed at engaging and inspiring residents and visitors to the city in science and technology.

It will be open to the community, as part of a pedestrian-friendly campus, and will have the flexibility to host a variety of events, exhibitions, immersive displays, talks, forums, and evening classes.

The Living Lab will help realise the ambition of the campus as a new cultural attraction for Peterborough, with a University Quarter which is publicly accessible and attractively designed.

The second teaching building is currently planned to cater to students studying mainly in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) fields. Construction on the third phase is planned to begin next year and is scheduled to open to students and the public in autumn 2024.


The university forms part of the Embankment Masterplan published by the city council earlier in the year, which aims to maximise the potential of the area for leisure and culture.

The second teaching building and Living Lab will be lower in height and smaller in size than the newly opened University House building.

It is planned to meet the requirements of an ‘excellent’ BREEAM rating, which is an industry-standard benchmark of a building’s sustainability, including aspects like energy efficiency.

Like the existing campus, the new phase will encourage walking and cycling, with cycle parking for 80 bicycles, and providing areas to socialise.


The planning application included an assessment of the many heritage assets in the area, including the Grade I Listed Peterborough Cathedral, and established that the proposals would not result in any harm to the heritage interests of the area.

The Living Lab and second teaching building represents another £28 million of investment into Peterborough.


This includes £20 million from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund. Peterborough City Council has contributed land for the project to an investment value of £2 million, Anglia Ruskin University is investing £4 million and the Combined Authority’s Business Board is contributing £2 million.

ARU Peterborough is a partnership between the Combined Authority, Peterborough City Council and Anglia Ruskin University.


Deputy Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and chair of the Skills Committee, Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, said: “This is another welcome step forward in the development of a university campus which aims to be freely accessible and embedded within the local community.

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“In order to help drive levels of skills and higher education in Peterborough upwards, we need inspire and engage people of all ages in learning, and that is exactly what the Living Lab has the potential to do.

“And in a city which is behind the national average for people entering higher education, the second teaching building will help give the capacity needed.

“The Combined Authority and its partners in the city council and at ARU are now determined to keep pushing this third phase forward so it can be ready for use in autumn 2024.”


Professor Ross Renton, Principal of ARU Peterborough, said: “Receiving this planning approval is fantastic news for the city and the wider region.

“We have been clear from the very beginning that ARU Peterborough is here to serve the whole community, not just those studying with us.

“As well as state-of-the-art teaching facilities, phase 3 will include the Living Lab, which will be a wonderful asset for Peterborough.

“The city’s new university is already helping to transform lives and we’re excited about bringing to life this next phase of ARU Peterborough.”


Alex Plant, chair of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Business Board, said: “This is another milestone in the development of this fantastic ARU Peterborough campus, and it is great to see the momentum continue.

“The Business Board is a major investor in the university, including in this exciting third phase which will help further embed the campus in the local community and further expand its potential to provide a major uplift in skills levels in the city and region.”


ARU Peterborough is a brand-new university for the region and opened for the first time in September 2022. ARU is working with regional businesses to co-create an exciting range of degrees, degree apprenticeships, and training and development courses, ensuring that ARU Peterborough delivers the skills needed by employers.


Being developed in partnership with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and Peterborough City Council, ARU Peterborough will be at the heart of the city’s new University Quarter and has a mission to raise educational attainment in the region and in turn support business growth and the personal aspirations of the community.

Ranked in the world’s top 350 institutions in the 2022 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, ARU is a global university transforming lives through innovative, inclusive, and entrepreneurial education and research.

ARU’s academic excellence has been recognised by the UK’s Higher Education funding bodies, with 16 of ARU’s research areas assessed as world leading. ARU’s impactful research tackles pressing issues and makes a real difference to the communities it serves.

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