In June 2016, Aberystwyth University Council endorsed plans to reopen Pantycelyn as a first-rate hall of residence for Welsh-speaking students.
The proposals for the refurbished Pantycelyn include modern, en-suite bedrooms for 200 students, as well as social spaces for use both by students and the local community.
The cost of the work is estimated at £12m and a funding package for the project, with support from the Welsh Government, was confirmed by the University in November 2017.
A company of architects from Cardiff, Lawray Ltd, was appointed in autumn 2017 to work on the detailed plans for Pantycelyn and the aim is to re-open the building by September 2020.
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Pantycelyn was designed by the architect Sir Percy Thomas and opened its doors as a student hall of residence in 1951.
It was one of the first buildings on Penglais Campus and marked the beginning of a move away from the college by the sea to the college on the hill.
In 1974, Pantycelyn was designated a Welsh hall of residence and became a focus of Welsh speaking life at Aberystwyth University.
Since then, the building on Penglais hill has been the home of the Welsh-speaking students’ union UMCA, as well as Aelwyd Pantycelyn and the Cymdeithas Y Geltaidd society.
Pantycelyn has also been a crucible for dozens of Welsh musicians over the decades – from Y Blew in the 1970s to Yr Ods in the 2010s.
After the turn of the 21st century, it became clear that Pantycelyn was in need of major renovation work.
The University put forward plans to close the building as a hall of residence and provide contemporary purpose-built accommodation for Welsh-speaking students at Fferm Penglais.
Initial acceptance of the proposals gave way to concerns in 2013-14 and the University agreed to look again at the future of Pantycelyn.
Pantycelyn Project Board
The Pantycelyn Project Board was set up in 2015 to discuss the future of the building, and extensive consultation followed with students, students’ unions, staff and the wider community.
The Board’s report was considered by the University Council in June 2016 and its recommendation to reopen Pantycelyn as a first-rate hall of residence for Welsh students by September 2019 was accepted.
Here’s the full wording of the decision of the University Council on 29 June 2016 to endorse the recommendations of the Pantycelyn Project Board:
“Council endorses option B of the proposed design brief which would enable the re-opening of Pantycelyn to provide fit-for-the-future Welsh medium accommodation and social spaces, and intends to proceed with this project to reopen Pantycelyn by September 2020.
In the University’s current financial position, given uncertainties post-referendum and HEFCW’s rules, the Council underlines that the necessary funding must be secured to permit the Council to give a definitive commitment.
Council invites the Executive to present a report to the October meeting of FSC setting out options for the financing of the project. These options should include consideration of a specific fundraising campaign for Pantycelyn.
Council invites the Project Board to continue its work and offer advice to the Technical Design for the refurbishment of Pantycelyn, including further defining the detailed requirements for the social, catering, and learning space provision on the ground floor.
Council confirms that Penbryn will continue to provide Welsh-medium accommodation pending Pantycelyn’s reopening, with the section dedicated as Welsh-medium accommodation branded separately so that the link with Pantycelyn is maintained.”
To find out more about the background and other significant developments in the Pantycelyn project since 2015, take a look at our series of news stories.