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Town faces university challenge

CREWE is to become a bustling university town as the number of students doubles over the next decade.

CREWE is to become a bustling university town as the number of students doubles over the next decade.

Manchester Metropolitan University has confirmed it will shut down its Alsager campus to concentrate on Crewe.

It will mean major investment in the Crewe site, which will cater for the 2,800 students currently studying at Alsager.

University bosses took the decision in order to create a more vibrant university atmosphere to help attract the students of the future.

They have appointed planning consultants Austin Smith Lord to look at the options for expansion on the Crewe site.

The international firm has been commissioned to provide a master plan to steer the university through the next decade. It will deliver its blueprint for the future in a special report in the spring.

The new Crewe campus will provide students and staff with outstanding facilities, including new lecture theatres, sports facilities and halls of residence.

While it could be a disaster economically for Alsager, as pubs, cafes and shops lose out on student cash, it is good news for Crewe.

University spokesman Gareth Hollyman said the decision followed similar centralisation plans for the university's four sites in Manchester.

He said: 'Historically in South Cheshire we have two sites, Alsager and Crewe, and as in Manchester we are looking to unite them into a single centre.

'There are a number of reasons for this. The main thing is that it will bring a more university atmosphere to Crewe.

'But it is also a matter of cutting travel time for staff and students. Many courses today are made up of lots of different modules, and there is no guarantee these will be on the same site.

'On top of that it is really a matter of resources. In many cases we have to duplicate facilities at both sites, whereas with a centralised site one larger facility would be ideal.

'Unfortunately, this all means that the Alsager campus will eventually have to close.

'We will be looking to close it down completely by 2010, although things will start moving out from 2005.

'The way it is done will be seamless in that facilities will not leave the Alsager campus until new ones are built in Crewe. That way students will not lose out.

'Arts facilities will be the first to move and the last to leave will be the Alsager sports facilities which are state of the art.

'Not only are we not leaving South Cheshire, as has been rumoured, we have people working on the future, including investment into new buildings, sports facilities and halls of residence.'

Mr Hollyman said that until the consultants' report was received he did not know whether the new expanded campus would remain at the same site in Crewe.

He added: 'At the moment they are carrying out an audit of the Crewe site, looking at the space and capacity.'


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
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