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MP and councillor welcome rubber stamp to University of Cumbria coming back to Ambleside

November 30, 2012 11:03 AM

Tim has been leading the campaign to save Ambleside CampusBut both call for more action on affordable housing for locals, especially with disused buildings

South Lakes MP Tim Farron and local councillor Heidi Halliday have welcomed the news that Ambleside Campus will be fully re-opened in 2014. But both Heidi and Tim have called for the Lake District National Park, residents and the University to get around a table to discuss the need to utilise empty buildings for affordable housing for local people.

The plans outlined by the University Board yesterday which agreed to push forward with phase one of the plans. This should mean 400 students come back to begin with.

According to the University phase one has the following objectives:

  • Reduce the size of the Ambleside campus to that needed by the university and dispose of excess estate.
  • Identify long term best location for programmes running at Penrith.
  • Establish an Institute for Leadership and Sustainability to create an engine for growth of new income, drawing on the developing international and enterprise programme.
  • Develop a portfolio of activities at Ambleside which make the best of its unique setting and fit within wider University plans for academic and enterprise development, and income generation

This is a major turnaround after the university revealed plans to close the campus in 2009. Tim led the campaign to make the university change its mind. This led to the campus being saved but parts of the site were 'mothballed' until the university did an assessment of its future plans for its campuses. That review ended with the university's Board agreeing to save the campus and produce a business plan. That plan was agreed by the Universities governing board on Monday.

The campaign to save the much loved campus was spearheaded by Tim and has had widespread public backing throughout the SouthLakes. At public meetings in Ambleside over the last 2 years, hundreds of local residents came to voice their opposition to university management about the plans to close the campus; thousands also signed a petition and there were two marches through the town.

Tim said: "Knowing that our campaign has ensured that the campus has a major future is great news. I will now continue to work with the community, Lakes Parish Council and others to make sure we hold the university to its word. Two years ago the university mothballed the campus, but our campaign made them see sense. I want to pay tribute to Vice Chancellor Peter Strike and Deputy Vice Chancellor Liz Beaty for their vision and determination. We wouldn't have had this announcement without them.

When I heard the news that the university wanted to close the site, I was devastated. I pledged to do everything in my power to restore the campus and to bring the students back - and I'm pleased to say we've done it! I want to thank the students, their families and the community for their help. I do not know any other town that would campaign to keep their students, but we did and we've won!"

Ambleside Councillor Heidi Halliday added: "Whilst I welcome the University's return and commitment to the Ambleside Campus, we need to ensure that the University continues to engage with the local community. I look forward to the opportunity of working with the University and the National Park to ensure that there will be an element of affordable housing within the sell off of the University's surplus properties."