January 22, 2015, by Charlotte Anscombe
Planning for The David Ross Sports Village is rejected
The University’s plans to build a new £40m sports centre have been brought to a halt when a planning application was rejected by Nottingham City Council yesterday.
The Registrar, Dr Paul Greatrix responds to the decision:
“The decision smacks of hypocrisy. Given the number of mature trees, including 40 on University Boulevard, felled by the City Council to make way for the tram and ring road improvements.
“There are over 5,000 trees on University Park campus, of which over 600 are in the same category of significance as the three of concern to the Committee.
“Ironically, The University of Nottingham has again this week been announced as the World’s Greenest University in the international green metric ranking. Number one for the third time in four years. We have a national and international reputation for our teaching, research and our environmental stewardship. A point the Planning Committee seems to have given less weight to than the three trees.
“The University, its staff and students generate over a billion pounds a year for the economy of this city – every single year. We are one of the leading universities in the world. To sustain this position we need to continue to invest in our estate. The £40m Sports Village was the next step in this plan. It is extraordinary that the Committee failed to realise this.
“The University has also committed to a vision to create an Arboretum of regional and national acclaim throughout the whole 300 acre University Park Campus. In 2012 it planted 40,000 trees on a 60 acre Diamond Wood in Sutton Bonington. Again, this bigger picture seems to have eluded the Committee.
“Every effort has been made in the design development of the Sports Village project to minimise the impact on our landscaping and existing trees. The scale of the proposed sports centre is critical for the University to deliver a facility to meet our sporting objectives and aspirations. Whilst we appreciate that the three oak trees are significant specimens, they must be considered in the overall context of over 5,000 trees on University Park campus, of which 600 are in the same category of significance.
“This is bad decision-making and flies in the face of the recommendations and advice from the professional Council Officers.
“A case where some members of the Planning Committee were genuinely unable to see the wood for the trees.”
I find the tone in the messages quite disappointing for a university: “They were allowed to cut some trees, now I want to cut some trees as well.” The argument should have been why the sport centre plans could not have incorporated the trees in the first place? Are there arguments that this is the only way that this new sports village could be realised? The statement of “hypocrisy” is really not the way forward and quite embarrassing for anyone at the university…