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VC responds to press story on precinct master plan

Detail of the precinct master plan

Detail of the precinct master plan

31 October 2007

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas, has responded to an inaccurate story about the master plan for the University precinct that appeared in the Bristol Evening Post on October 30.

The story said the sail-shaped building that appears in some of the artist’s impressions of how Tyndall Avenue might look in the future had been ‘scuppered’. It pinned the blame on inflation and the cost of implementing the Reward agenda. The University had explained to the Post that all this was misleading and had set out the facts, but the Post went ahead anyway.

This is Professor Thomas’s response to the Editor:

I am grateful to the Post for the large volume of accurate and positive coverage it gives to University affairs. It is wonderful to have a local newspaper that takes such an interest in what we do.

However, the story headed ‘Costs scupper uni’s sail-shaped tower’ (Post, 30 October) was seriously flawed.

The tower appeared in the master plan for the development of the University precinct to indicate that we might seek planning permission to create a building of a certain height and mass in that location. It was included to establish the possibility of a tall building on Tyndall Avenue.

We told your reporter that such an option still exists. Whether we seek to go ahead with it or not remains to be seen. If we do, the proposed design may even be reminiscent of a sail. But so far, there is no design proposal. As the Post itself explained when the master plan was unveiled in November 2005, ‘Any specific proposals coming forward for new development would still have to go through the City Council’s statutory planning and consultation process’. That remains the case.

The story blamed the alleged cancellation of the building on inflation and the cost of implementing our Reward programme. I have no quarrel with the Post’s account of the programme, and it is true that these factors increase the pressure on our budgets. But the statement in your headline is false. Nothing has been scuppered; a sail-shaped tower has never been more than one possibility; and cost pressures are not going to blow us off course.

Yours sincerely

Professor Eric Thomas


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