Plans to transform Civic Centre into new university campus set to be given green light

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 8 Feb 2019

Plans to convert Scunthorpe's Grade-II listed Civic Centre into a new university campus are expected to get the green light.

Proposals submitted by North Lincolnshire Council would see the building used as a higher eduction facility.

It would form the first phase of a University Campus North Lincolnshire scheme led by the council, North Lindsey College and the University of Lincoln, to deliver 1,500 university-level places in Scunthorpe.

A range of programmes would be offered, including post-graduate and undergraduate studies.

Now, councillors have been recommended to approve the proposals at a planning meeting on Wednesday, February 13.

The Civic Centre, on Ashby Road, was put up for sale by the authority in September 2017, with staff set to move to Church Square House in the town centre.

North Lincolnshire Council staff are set to leave the Civic Centre and move to Church Square House in Scunthorpe town centre (Image: David Haber/scunthorpelive)

The building has been exclusively used as head offices by Scunthorpe Borough Council, then North Lincolnshire Council, since 1962 and had previously been tipped to be converted for hotel, leisure or residential use.

Under the plans, the main council chamber is to be converted into a lecture theatre while offices would be changed to create classrooms and IT laboratories.

Two external staircases would be also be built in line with the increased capacity of the building.

Council leader Rob Waltham said the project would help to plug the higher education gap in the region.

He said: "The region, its people and its business owners, do not lack capability nor ambition, but there is a higher-education gap which has a detrimental impact on innovation and thus productivity.

"By developing an environment where innovation is encouraged, intellectual pursuits are stimulated and academic endeavours are commercialised, opportunities won’t just be realised, they will be born.

The council chamber at the Civic Centre in Scunthorpe is to be turned into a lecture theatre under the university campus plans (Image: David Haber/Scunthorpe Live)

"The higher education element is critical but it must come hand-in-glove with entrepreneurialism. The best ideas, when cultivated, create viable, scalable and sustainable businesses. 

"These businesses attract external investment, create high-paid jobs and do not just utilise technological advances but drive the development of technology for traditional and new industries."

The authority first announced plans to leave the Civic Centre in January 2016.

The move to Church Square forms part of a previously announced £60 million Scunthorpe town centre regeneration programme and council bosses said relocating from the Civic Centre would save the authority around £375,000 a year.

A total of £5.7 million has been spent on extending Church Square House in order to accommodate the additional council employees.

Work continues on an extension to North Lincolnshire Council's Church Square House in Scunthorpe town centrre (Image: David Haber/Scunthorpe Live)

Meanwhile, the authority has since been allocated £2.3 million worth of funding from the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership to go towards the higher education project.

Julian Free, deputy vice chancellor of people services and operations at the University of Lincoln, said: "This latest development is an exciting step towards making higher education and skills opportunities available to even more people in the north of the county. 

"By widening participation and raising people’s aspirations, we hope the project will become a catalyst for innovation and growth.

"The university is committed to this project, which will have a transformational effect on Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire."

North Lindsey College principal Mick Lochran said he was "delighted that such an ambitious project, that will be transformational for Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire, is becoming a reality".

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