Planning consent for Old College redevelopment
Ceredigion County Council has approved Aberystwyth University’s plans to transform the iconic Old College building, which opened its doors in 1872 and was the first home of the University of Wales. Image: Keith Morris
19 June 2019
Ceredigion County Council has approved Aberystwyth University’s applications for planning consent to redevelop the Grade 1 listed Old College building.
The project to breathe new life into the Old College will provide new cultural, learning, and enterprise facilities for the University, the local community and the wider region
Plans for the £26. 2 million pound project were approved by members of Ceredigion Council’s Planning Committee at their meeting on Wednesday 12 June 2019.
The proposals include the creation of spaces for art and other exhibitions, music and performances, science displays and activities, conference and debating facilities, teaching rooms for languages and lifelong learning, community rooms and a 24-hour study space for students.
The wood-panelled Old Library will be available as a public space for events and festivals as well as private and community functions, with the upper floors offering high-quality accommodation in 30 rooms.
Other features of the redevelopment include 12 new business units for the creative technologies sector, with European Regional Development Funding through the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO).
The proposed redevelopment of the Old College will act as a catalyst for economic regeneration, creating up to 40 new jobs and attracting over 200,000 visitors every year.
It will also safeguard the future and preserve the heritage of the two Georgian villas next door to Old College.
The villas will be used to create a new entrance to Old College, bringing visitors into a six-storey atrium and providing lift and stairwell access to the six floors of the Old College as well as a new function room in a stunning setting overlooking Cardigan Bay.
Dr Rhodri Llwyd Morgan, Director of the Welsh Language, Culture and External Engagement at Aberystwyth University, said: “As the birthplace of the University of Wales in the late nineteenth century, the Old College is one of Wales’s most iconic buildings. Our proposals would retain its outstanding architecture and historic significance while reinventing its purpose for a new generation of students, staff and visitors. We are grateful to everyone who has responded to our consultation, to Ceredigion Council for supporting our vision and to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for allowing us to develop our ambitious plans in detail.”
The New Life for Old College project was granted round one development funding by the National Lottery Heritage Fund of £850,000 in July 2017, and a final decision on the full funding award of £10.5 million is expected before the end of 2019.
Developed by a team of experienced heritage architects and business planning and audience development consultants, the detailed proposals to redevelop Old College will cost an estimated £26.2m in total and ensure a vibrant and viable future for the building.
The main sources will be external funding, including grants from trusts and foundations as well as a major public fundraising appeal, with costs partially met through the University’s capital investment programme.
The aim is to reopen the building in the 2022-23 academic year when the University celebrates its 150th anniversary.