The former Blackdale School site lies between Blackdale Plantation and Bluebell Road and is 1.79 hectares in size. It is currently used by the University of East Anglia (UEA). The site comprises the main teaching building of the former Blackdale School, part of the former school field, hard surfaced play areas and a part of the Blackdale Plantation wooded area.
The site borders Cow Drive to the south, which provides pedestrian and cycle links into the UEA campus to the west. The route also provides vehicular access to the allocation site. The site retains its educational use following on from use by the former school. Former playing fields extend to the north along Bluebell Road and link with the playing field space used by the City Academy Norwich. To the south of Cow Drive are newly erected campus buildings, including a teaching building, a nursery, a health centre and a biomass energy centre.
The University of East Anglia is an important asset for the city and the county. It is a major employer and is internationally recognised for its excellence. The growth of the university is fundamental to the economic strategy for the area, promoting the linked development of knowledge industries, particularly plant sciences, education and the hospital. The site has an established educational use and allocation of this site will facilitate the growth of the university on a site neighbouring the existing allocated campus area.
The site will form part of an expansion to the university campus. Since it will be closer to open spaces and residential buildings than the existing campus, the scale and massing of the development will need to reflect this. Any new building will be between the new Academy to the north, which is 3 storeys high and set back from the road, and taller buildings within the campus. The site also has a backdrop of Blackdale Plantation. The scale and positioning of any new building will need to be assessed to ensure that it does not dominate the street scene. The site should also be landscaped to enhance existing green features whilst also creating a green edge to neighbouring housing.
The site is adjacent to Cow Drive, an historic green lane, which is also a pedestrian and cycle route into the campus forming part of the strategic cycle network and the main access point to the former school site at the moment. Whilst the site will be integrated into the overall setting of the campus in future development, an assessment will be required of access design and the suitability of an extension of the existing campus road network. This should include the benefits of linking to the roadway in front of the INTO building as an extension of the Lasdun grid layout. The setting of Cow Drive should be protected and enhanced and as part of any access assessment pedestrian and cycle links should be protected and a design solution provided for the potential merging of traffic if crossing Cow Drive is considered feasible. Parking issues related to use of this space will need to be resolved prior to development and an update will be required to the travel plan.
An assessment of the capacity of site drainage will be required, incorporating sustainable drainage as necessary. The woodland setting and existing landscape features should be retained and enhanced where appropriate. This includes Blackdale Plantation, the specimen trees occurring within the current school grounds, the boundary hedgerows and Cow Drive. Any changes to these areas will need to be informed by an arboriculture and landscape assessment.
As well as the above, development will take account of:
- existing university conservation development and landscape strategies;
- the Development Framework Strategy produced by UEA and endorsed by the council in 2010; and
- when produced by UEA and, if endorsed by the council, the proposed Blackdale School area Vision and Development Document.
The land is identified for campus extension for UEA, which is the landowner of the site. This site is suitable and available for development.
POLICY R40: Former Blackdale School, University of East Anglia – campus extension
The former Blackdale School site is allocated for a campus extension for university related uses.
- be designed to reflect its setting, creating a green edge fronting neighbouring residential development;
- retain and enhance existing landscape features, including Cow Drive, as informed by an arboriculture and landscape assessment;
- provide public access and a management scheme for Blackdale Plantation; and
- be linked to the university district heating network where possible.
Development of this site should be guided by a coherent and coordinated planning approach that has involved English Heritage, UEA and Norwich City council. Lasdun’s original vision should be a key consideration.
Access arrangements will be informed by an assessment and a Travel Plan will be required.