£6m boost for Jordanstown campus

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One of Northern Ireland’s major university sites will receive a £6 million upgrade to its sports facilities when the main learning campus moves to Belfast.

The new master plan for the University of Ulster at Jordanstown – which is transferring the bulk of its teaching and research activity into the heart of the city by 2018 – was unveiled on Wednesday.

The Jordanstown site is already home to a £13 million high performance sports centre that was opened by Lord Coe in 2008 and used by the Province’s top athletes, Ulster rugby and Ireland cricket teams.

Sports teaching and learning facilities will be included in the new facility and the existing sports pitches will be relocated closer to the main buildings.

The specialist FireSERT engineering facility will continue to carry out its fire safety science research on the existing site.

In March, the university unveiled its vision for the multi-million pound investment and submitted its planning application for the new Belfast City Campus in York Street.

The reorganisation will result in the significant expansion of the existing campus in north Belfast.

Initially, the plan was sparked by a review of the higher education estate carried out by the Department for Employment and Learning in 2006.

That report identified the main Jordanstown campus building as the “key infrastructure challenge” facing Northern Ireland’s universities.

Speaking at the unveiling of the new plans on Wednesday, university vice chancellor Professor Richard Barnett said: “The university has been a part of the Jordanstown landscape for 40 years and will continue to be an important part of the landscape in years to come.

“It is because of that long association with the area that the university is keen to retain its links through the further development of our world class sports facilities and the retention of our FireSERT research facility while also triggering development that is sensitive to the needs and character of the local community.

“The university’s presence in Jordanstown will be scaled back as a result of our new Belfast city campus but our commitment to this area will not in any way be diminished.”

Other proposals for the existing Jordanstown site include replacing the main building and car park with an urban village-style residential development to include mixed use community facilities and the creation of a village centre hub with retail and commercial opportunities.

Access routes to the new village centre are also being upgraded with pedestrians and cyclists catered for.

University provost Prof Alastair Adair said the new facilities must reflect the latest trends in international higher education so it “can compete for the best students, best researchers and best staff”.