Edge Hill expansion cleared by Pickles

Work will start in March on £55m of developments including sports complex and accommodation at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk.

West Lancashire Council's planning committee initially approved the university's development proposals at a meeting in January. The Secretary of State Eric Pickles has now confirmed there will not be a public inquiry.

The university will build a £15m sports centre and grass and all-weather pitches on land beyond the leisure centre, as well as a new entrance, access roads and extra parking.

There are also plans to built 384 student rooms in six separate blocks immediately to the east of the current sports centre, many of which will be available for the September 2012 intake.

John Cater, vice-chancellor, said: "This is excellent news for the university and the community, creating over 200 construction and 50 permanent jobs at a time of economic recession, bringing over £55m of investment to the local area and providing international-class facilities for over 4,000 local users every week.

"Now that we have support from the Secretary of State, work can start on site immediately. The end result will see the creation of the eastern campus and will provide space for new student learning and living facilities for many years to come, making it a campus that truly matches, in both quality and scale, the very best in the United Kingdom.

"We are very grateful for the support we have received from the borough council as we strive to turn these ambitious plans into reality."

The Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership has loaned £1m to the university from its Growing Places Fund for the first phase.

Further development plans for this year include the £2m refurbishment of the Performing Arts building, which houses the Rose Theatre. It will include a new café and social area wrapped around the existing building. An atrium-style extension, overlooking the Ormskirk Campus Rock Garden, will provide a versatile area for exhibition space and for theatre-goers to socialise before and after performances. Subject to approval, work on this project is scheduled to start after Easter.

Planning consultancy Turley Associates advises Edge Hill Associates

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