The University of Warwick has today, Thursday 17th June, submitted a proposal to create a huge new 48+ hectare public eco park on the south side of its campus for consideration in the South Warwickshire Local Plan.
The new eco park will help support and develop an even more sustainable future for the campus, its students and staff, and its surrounding communities.
At 48.8 hectares, the eco park will be comparable in size to Coventry’s popular Memorial Park (though the eco park will be different and complementary in form). It will be open to the public as well as students and university staff, and will make a significant contribution to sustainable development delivering substantial community benefits to Coventry, Kenilworth, and the rest of South Warwickshire. The eco park will have three core themes:
Discovery - It will provide new recreational space for students, staff and the public, with pedestrian and cycle paths, including the established Sustrans route, which will connect main campus to the Greenway and Kenilworth Road with a sculpture trail and picnic areas.
Ecology - It will also include nature reserves, supporting even more diverse wildlife with new and enhanced wildlife habitats linking into the heart of campus, which will provide opportunities for nature study for local schools
Energy - space for renewable energy generation to serve the campus and potentially the wider community.
The eco park will be designed to support the shift towards more sustainable and active forms of transport, including a much improved network of pedestrian and cycle routes, and a boarding point for any future Very Light Rail services to the campus. It will also form part of the University’s transport strategy to help develop and champion more sustainable transport links to (and surrounding) the main campus, including a possible nearby future train station, and roads that are more configured to better support additional environmentally friendly forms of transport such as cycling.
The University of Warwick’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart Croft, said:
-This is the biggest single development announcement the University of Warwick has made in decades. I am sure it will surprise many that it is for a huge 48+ hectare public eco park rather than a set of buildings.-
-The last 15 months of lockdowns and isolation have brought home to us all the value of getting outside to walk, exercise, or just simply relax, somewhere green, free and accessible. Coventry and Warwickshire has several great such spaces but this last year has certainly increased almost everyone’s desire for even more.-
-If this finds favour in the new Local Plan for South Warwickshire it will be so much more than just a great green public space for students, university staff, and all our surrounding communities. It will be a 48+ hectare sized green conscience, that for decades will help shape all our decisions on the travel links we create to it, and any structures we build near it to be green, sustainable, transport links and buildings.-
The new proposed stadium for Coventry City Football Club (first announced last year) would be located alongside, and in addition to, the proposed eco park area. It will be a green home for the Sky Blues drawing directly on the eco park’s ethos to be one of the UK-s greenest and most sustainable football stadia.
The eco park proposal is a key part of the University of Warwick’s sustainability strategy (see more at https://warwick.ac.uk/about/strategy/waytosustainable/ ). It is also the cornerstone of the University’s future campus masterplan and is now part of the deliberations of Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Warwick District Council which are working together to prepare a new Local Plan for South Warwickshire. The Plan is expected to replace the strategic policies of the existing Stratford-on-Avon Core Strategy and Warwick Local Plan, which both run until 2031.