Neuadd Pantycelyn was built in 1951, and it became a Welsh hall of residence in 1973. Since then, the building has been the focus of Welsh speaking life at Aberystwyth University and has contributed in numerous ways to promote its prosperity.
In recent years, as the need to modernise facilities at Neuadd Pantycelyn became increasingly evident, discussions developed regarding the exact nature of the dedicated Welsh-medium accommodation and social spaces that Aberystwyth University should aim to provide in future, along with a discussion regarding Pantycelyn’s role in that provision.
Council’s resolution - June 2015
On 22 June 2015, the University’s Council passed the following resolution in relation to Pantycelyn:
“Council underlines its commitments to the Welsh language and culture and the provision of dedicated Welsh-medium accommodation within the University.
“Council invites the Executive to provide Welsh-medium accommodation in Penbryn from September 2015 and also offer sufficient space for communal and cultural activities for Welsh-language speakers and Welsh learners throughout the University.
“Council recognising that accommodation in Pantycelyn will cease this month, welcomes and endorses the Executive’s recommendation that certain services should be moved into Pantycelyn to provide Welsh language activities and confirms that at the same time there will be access to Pantycelyn for UMCA and Welsh language speakers and Welsh learners.
“Council invites the Executive to develop a design brief for the provision of excellent Welsh-medium accommodation and social space taking into account the current and future demand for Welsh-medium accommodation. Council asks that a brief for excellent Welsh-medium accommodation and social spaces, good for 40 years, is available by 30 April 2016, and insists that UMCA and the student body, as well as staff and the community are fully consulted to define the scope for excellent Welsh-medium accommodation.
“The agreed design brief will then be applied to Pantycelyn.
“At this stage Council expects this application to take into consideration: a revised University Estate Strategy; the demand for Welsh-medium accommodation; the structural changes needed in Pantycelyn, a Listed building and an indication that the necessary permissions will be forthcoming; the priorities of the University; and the provision of necessary funding.
“This work will have drawn upon the advice of MPAG.
“A final report which takes these issues into account with a clear, costed design for Welsh-medium accommodation at Pantycelyn, including a funding strategy, will be brought to Council for consideration.
“It is our intention, on this basis, to reopen Pantycelyn within 4 years to provide fit-for-the- future Welsh-medium Accommodation and social spaces”.
This resolution is based on the motion tabled at that meeting by the Chair of Council, after securing agreement for the proposed text during discussions with the then President of Aberystwyth University Students Union, and both the serving and incoming UMCA Presidents.
The Pantycelyn Project Board has now been established to take forward elements of the Council’s resolution and to develop a design brief by 30 April 2016. The Project Board is chaired by Pro-Chancellor Gwerfyl Pierce Jones.
At its inaugural meeting on 11 September 2015, the Project Board agreed its membership and terms of reference.
The following have been appointed to serve on the Project Board:
Members of Aberystwyth University Council
Gwerfyl Pierce Jones (Chair), Pro-Chancellor
Elin Jones AM
Members of the University’s Executive
Rebecca Davies, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Chief Operating Officer)
Dr Rhodri Llwyd Morgan, Pro Vice-Chancellor
Osian Elias, Undeb Myfyrwyr Cymraeg Aberystwyth Chair
Hanna Merrigan, Undeb Myfyrwyr Cymraeg Aberystwyth President
Lewis Donnelly, Aberystwyth University Students Union President
Members of University Staff
Dr Elin Royles, Chair of the AU Branch of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol
Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones
Dr Huw Lewis
50 per cent of the Project Board membership shall constitute a quorum, as long as the Chair and at least one individual is present from each of the following constituencies: staff members, student representatives, and independent members.
Rebecca Davies, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Chief Operating Officer), is Senior Responsible Officer for this project on behalf of the University Executive.
Geraint Pugh, University Secretary, is the Board’s Clerk. Any correspondence for the attention of the Project Board should be directed via the Clerk.
Terms of Reference
In line with the resolution agreed by Council on 22 June 2015, the following have been confirmed as the Project Board’s primary responsibilities:
- Have oversight of and advise on the development of a design brief for excellent Welsh-medium accommodation and social spaces which are good for 40 years, to be presented to the Council once endorsed by the Project Board.
- Ensure that UMCA and the student body, as well as staff and the community are fully consulted in the development of this design brief.
- Test how the design brief could be applied to Pantycelyn and the likely costs of doing so, and advise the Council accordingly, taking into consideration: a revised University Estate Strategy; the demand for Welsh-medium accommodation; the structural changes needed in Pantycelyn, listed-building status and the necessary permissions; the priorities of the University; and the provision of necessary funding.
- To draw on the advice of the Major Projects Advisory Group (MPAG), and to provide regular updates to Council via the Finance and Strategy Committee (FSC).
- To agree a final report encompassing the proposed design brief and how this design brief could be applied to Pantycelyn by 30 April 2016, so that the report can be considered by FSC and Council during the May / June 2016 cycle of meetings.
The Pantycelyn Project Board commissioned a piece of research by Old Bell 3 (www.oldbell3.co.uk) on the nature and provision of accommodation and social space that will likely meet the expectations of Welsh speaking students for the next forty years.
The research was based on extensive consultation with students and staff at the University, and the evidence gathered by Old Bell 3 presented to the Project Board in the form of a report.
The first stage of the consultation was a questionnaire developed by Old Bell 3. The questionnaire was available between 10 and 30 November 2015.
It was also possible to contribute to the consultation by submitting general comments by email or by phone.
As well as launching the public questionnaire which was distributed widely, Old Bell 3 alsoed host focus groups for undergraduate students, postgraduate students, and University staff.
Old Bell 3's Independent Report
On 15 January 2016, Old Bell 3 presented their independent report to the Pantycelyn Project Board on their findings in relation to the nature and provision of accommodation and social space that will likely meet the expectations of Welsh speaking students for the next forty years.
The Project Board agreed to publish a copy of this report, which can be accessed via the following link, as well as a copy of the PowerPoint presentation delivered by Old Bell 3 during the meeting.
Report to the University's Council - June 2016
The Pantycelyn Project Board completed its report to the governing body in line with the timetable agreed in June 2015 between the Chair of the University’s Council, Sir Emyr Jones Parry, and the student representatives.
The report was considered by the Finance and Strategy Committee on 27 May 2016, and by the Council on 29 June 2016.
A copy of the report is available via the following link. Where appropriate, information of a commercially-sensitive nature has been redacted.
The Council endorsed the plans to reopen Pantycelyn. Work to realise the refurbishment is now being progressed by the University Executive, with updates provided to the Project Board.
On 10 November 2016, the Pantycelyn Project Board approved an indicative timetable for the refurbishment, including the key milestones, drawing on the schedule of work identified by the architects appointed for the next stage of the project.
Links to relevant news items
Pantycelyn Architects Appointed (https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2016/10/title-192996-en.html)
Council Endorses Plans to Reopen Pantycelyn
Pantycelyn Project Board publishes report and recommendations (https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2016/05/title-183781-en.html)
Project Board completes its report on Pantycelyn (https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2016/05/title-183181-en.html)
Pantycelyn Project Board receives Old Bell 3 report (http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2016/01/title-178789-en.html)
Consultation launched to seek opinions on Welsh-medium student accommodation (http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2015/11/title-176538-en.html)
Pantycelyn Project Board meets for the first time (http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2015/09/title-173187-en.html)
Council approves resolution on Pantycelyn (http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2015/06/title-168281-en.html)