Green infrastructure for health skills and community well-being in Worcester

Local people, nursing and health students will be big beneficiaries of a £3m Government investment in skills and green infrastructure at the University of Worcester’s Severn Campus on the St. John’s side of Central Worcester.

The £3m grant, which is part of the Worcestershire Local Economic partnership green recovery package, will be match funded £ for £ by the University of Worcester. The £6m total will pay for necessary but unglamorous work such as the ‘soft strip’ of the former Worcester News building which is set to be transformed into a major centre for health education. The cash will also pay for electrical ducting, photo-voltaic panels and other modern green infrastructure as well as demolition and necessary ground works. The re-development of this large former print works and newspaper offices, where NME and the Saturday Guardian were once printed, will provide much needed practical facilities for the big increase in nursing and other health students at Worcester which HM Government announced at the end of July. The University plans to use the new facilities to develop a major expansion of its longstanding community health promotion programme at the Campus which embraces a strong healthy ageing programme as well as multiple sports and dance programmes for children. The University is also working on creating the country’s first inclusive cricket centre in partnership with the England Cricket Board and this grant will help with both power and walking and wheeling connectivity.

The University, which is currently UK sustainability institution of the year (Green Gown Awards) and globally commended for its sustainability work by the United Nations (International Green Gown Awards), is well known for its imaginative community partnership work which is symbolised by the Hive, which as well as being one of Britain’s most successful libraries is also the only university and public library in the UK.

Professor David Green CBE, the University Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive said: “We are very grateful to the Worcestershire Local Economic Partnership and HM Government for this positive investment. We are deeply committed to growing and developing the outstanding health workforce that our City and region so badly needs. The redevelopment of the former Worcester News building will provide community as well as educational facilities and this will be theme of the development of the Severn Campus which will have inclusion of the local community and well-being at its heart. Much of this work will be permitted development and we will let the contracts as quickly as possible providing much needed construction jobs to help our local citizens and the economy recover from the negative economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The University of Worcester, the UK’s Number One University for Quality Education in the inaugural University Impact Rankings produced by the globally respected, higher education specialist THE magazine is also short-listed finalist for the second year running as Social Mobility University of the Year. Midwifery students have named Worcester the Number One University in the UK for student satisfaction out of the 75 Universities who educate midwives.

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: We are delighted to have been successful with our Getting Building Fund submission, with numerous projects being funded across the county. The works on the Severn campus to enable the future expansion plans to include new medical training facilities and inclusive sports centre is a key project for the local economy.  Medical training and education is a sector that we recognise for future growth and I believe that this project will enable Worcestershire to become a hub for medical, health and well-being science education.”

Worcester MP Robin Walker said: “I have been a big fan of what the University has already achieved on inclusive sport and how it supports people of all ages with health and well-being but their plans for an international centre for inclusive sport will really put Worcester on the map.

“I am delighted that the infrastructure to support this project and deliver vital regeneration in a key part of our riverside is being funded by the Government's Getting Britain Building Fund.

“This project will compliment both the new cycling and walking bridge at Kepax and the major expansion of nursing training announced last week and keep our university and city at the forefront of development in health and active travel.”

Sharon Smith, CEO of the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The project on the University’s Severn Campus will be a pivotal force in the rebuild and regeneration of the county’s economy, providing jobs to a depleted labour market and opportunities for years to come.

“The need for infrastructure to support extra nursing and health students is also apparent and has been highlighted even further over the last number of months. It is great to hear that the University of Worcester will be helping to address this issue by providing health and nursing students with the facilities they need adding to an already successful programme.”