St Mary's Vision 2025
Actor and Comedian Rob Brydon is among those against the newly announced St Maryâ€™s University expansion plans, whichâ€™ll see the site turn into a larger, wider and more populated new student community.
Vice Chancellor Francis Campbell â€˜Masterplan Vision 2025â€™ promises to invest Â£100m into the students and staff of St Maryâ€™s university, Twickenham, including improving their learning and research facilities.
The plans involve student numbers rising from the current 5,300 to around 9,000 by 2026, a massive increase of 70%.
New accommodation will be built on the surrounding grounds alongside new sporting grounds all with the aim of aiding students reach their potential.
However, many people have opposed the idea. With the construction planned to start as soon as possible, St Maryâ€™s University founder member Jonathan Whines claims that Twickenham is crowded enough without building on land space to cater for more residents.
He said: â€œWe already have numerous problems including parking issues and anti-social behaviour. This is a densely populated residential area.â€
Complaints have also been raised regarding the plans to move the recently named Sir Mo Farah running track to the nearby Teddington Lock site to cater for the expansion.
Brydon, who lives in the immediate area of Richmond has repeatedly tweeted/retweeted against the idea.
Local resident groups have stated their strong opposition with Mr Whines stating that there is no exceptional case to excuse the expansion.
He said: â€œIt is quite inappropriate for such a large-scale urban-type development to be supported, particularly in the historic setting of Grade 1 listed Strawberry Hill House. In addition, the Council should not be encouraging the breach of regulations regarding Metropolitan Open Land.â€
He added: â€œThere is no exceptional case.â€
In defence of the project, which will develop throughout the next decade, a St Maryâ€™s spokesperson has assured doubters that their worries, although noted, are not going to stop the project taking place.
A spokesperson for St Maryâ€™s said: â€œSt Maryâ€™s University already makes a major contribution to the local area. We are currently consulting on a long-term plan to develop our campuses at Strawberry Hill and Teddington Lock to enhance that contribution and ensure that we remain competitive.
Our masterplan will provide improved first-class sports facilities for the community, reduce our environmental impact and ensure the campus remains open to the local community. Speaking with our neighbours and the community is an important part of this process.â€
St Maryâ€™s Studentâ€™s Union President Zander Lavall stressed that the one key element to ensure any change would be successful is to make sure the students are made priority.
He said: â€œThe best thing about St Maryâ€™s, for me, has to be the students because without them I wouldnâ€™t be in a job! We get people from all over the world coming to study here and its fantastic to see people merge and form friendships.
Kristen Pilbrow, International Student Experience Manager at St Maryâ€™s echoes this statement, saying: â€œI would describe St Maryâ€™s as a supportive university which helps students achieve their best.
Pro Vice-Chancellor and Academic Strategist Professor John Charmley believes that the project will only enhance St Maryâ€™s community feel. He said: â€œWhat people say, our students and visitors, they always say one word. It has a community feel. Thatâ€™s not surprising. We are a Catholic university and we believe in community. Each one of our students is a name, not a number.