Court approves planning application for redevelopment of King's Quarter

A message to staff from Professor Alan Speight, Vice Principal (Student Recruitment) and Convenor of the King's College Transformation Programme Board.

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to update you on Court’s decision to approve the submission of a planning application for the redevelopment of the immediate area of King’s College (King’s Quarter).

The decision made by Court marks a significant step forward in our long-term plans for the redevelopment of the Old Aberdeen campus, approved by Court last year.

Less than 20% of the currently underused space in King’s Quarter is accessible to students, and the development works would revitalise the historic centre of campus with quality new teaching and learning space.  As well as helping to modernise our approach to teaching, it would also maintain the magnificent facades of these historic buildings and avoid the need to build anew.

The plans to enhance facilities in King’s Quarter include a new flagship atrium, creating a central forum space with connections to surrounding buildings. The proposals would also see improvements to the interiors of a number of areas, including the Old Senate Wing, Book Stack and Cromwell Tower. Illustrative examples of the design concept can be seen in the slideshow above.

It is important to reiterate that Court has approved a pause on major capital expenditure, meaning that the King’s Quarter and Johnston projects will be paused following determination by the planning authorities, who have urged that we proceed with the King’s Quarter planning submission notwithstanding current Covid-19 public health measures.

A separate planning application has already been submitted in respect of our plans to relocate the Business School from its current home in the MacRobert Building to a new single-site home on the site of the currently dormant Johnston Halls, and a decision on this is pending.

Submission of the King’s Quarter planning application at the current time, alongside the Johnston redevelopment proposals, also allows us to retain the existing design team while it is being considered - a key element in its successful progression to final determination, and to safeguarding the progress made so far on the project.

The planning application is expected to be submitted later this month, and if granted, planning approval would last for three years (or longer if some elements of the work are commenced in that time).

There is of course much continuing uncertainty as to if and when it will be possible to proceed with the proposed programme of developments if planning approval is granted. That decision will be subject to Court’s further consideration of an updated business case, once student recruitment patterns for next session and for future years become more clear.

Nonetheless, this is a significant milestone for the King’s College Transformation programme overall, and for the King’s Quarter project in particular.

Progress to this point has involved extensive consultation with stakeholders across the University over the last year, coordinated by the Kings Quarter Project Management Group (PMG). This PMG (along with the Johnston Redevelopment PMG) and all other activity on the programme is now paused, pending Court approval to restart.

The Kings College Transformation Programme Board, which oversees the work of both PMGs, will meet as and when required, to receive and respond to matters arising from the progress of both planning applications.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved for their considerable efforts in progressing the King’s College Transformation programme to this point, under very challenging circumstances that none of us could have foreseen when our work began over a year ago.

With my very best wishes,

Alan  

Professor Alan Speight,
Vice Principal (Student Recruitment)
Convenor, King’s College Transformation Programme Board