The site lies in the south of existing University of East Anglia (UEA) campus and west of Bluebell Road and is 2.85 hectares in size. The site is currently part of the landscaping setting between the UEA buildings at “The Prospect” and the University Broad. The area was formerly part of a golf course and it comprises grassland, trees and two cycle routes. The area slopes up from the river as part of the river valley, with the campus buildings forming the backdrop to the space. It is used by students and local residents as an informal recreational area as it provides access to the broad and the riverside walk.
The UEA 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. Allocation of the site will enable growth of the university adjoining the existing campus setting.
The UEA Development Framework Strategy (DFS) has identified that this site may be needed to meet growth needs up to 2030, most likely for student accommodation. Since this Site allocations plan runs to 2026, the site is allocated as strategic reserve land for long term development, allowing flexibility should the site be required earlier.
Policy DM26 of the DM policies plan sets out guidelines for development at UEA. The policy seeks to enable expansion of the university, whilst conserving the landscape and architectural significance of the UEA and promoting public access to open spaces. Therefore it is essential that development of the site minimises impact on the river valley and enhances the setting of the listed buildings at the university. Consideration of the original Lasdun plan for a ‘Village on the hill’ will be important, as will design taking full account of other buildings of visual importance to the southern view of ‘The Prospect’, including the School of Music and Suffolk Walk. Intrusion into the valley should be limited to protect the valley’s appearance and use. Development will take account of existing university conservation development and landscape strategies and the area’s Vision and Development Document when produced by UEA and endorsed by the council.
The sloping topography of the site presents an opportunity for the use of innovative, sustainable design to minimise the visual impact and maximise environmental performance, including linking the new development to the campus wide district heating network. Development should also protect existing planting and provide enhanced biodiversity links to the Broad and river.
Public access to the University Broad from Bluebell Road, including cycle routes, must be retained and enhanced. Since the proposal involves the loss of existing open space, any development must include the opening up of new areas for public access as compensation for this loss. This could be at Strawberry Fields (land between University Broad and Bluebell Road), on land to the south of the River Yare, or on other areas of UEA owned land in the river valley where agreed appropriate.
Since the site is over 1 hectare in size, a flood risk assessment will be required. Sustainable drainage will have to ensure that water quality in sensitive habitats in the river valley is protected.
Transport impacts assessment will be required and as well as a review of the campus travel plan.
The land is identified as a strategic reserve for future development by UEA and should only be released subsequent to the development of the Blackdale School site and Earlham Hall site.
POLICY R41: Land between Suffolk Walk and Bluebell Road, University of East Anglia – strategic reserve
Land between Suffolk Walk and Bluebell Road is allocated as strategic reserve for a university campus extension.
- protect the visual setting of the south elevations of “The Prospect”;
- respect the settings of the adjacent listed buildings, buildings on the south edge of the existing campus and the Broad;
- protect existing planting and promote biodiversity;
- retain and enhance public access to the University Broad from Bluebell Road;
- provide alternative green space prior to development;
- provide travel assessment and updated Travel Plan; 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.