Riseholme Park plans would “destroy opportunities for young people,” college claims

Plans to redevelop the Riseholme campus north of Lincoln would “destroy opportunities for young people,” said the principal of Riseholme College, the site’s current tenant — and the owners of the site, the University of Lincoln, are disputing the claims.

As previously reported, the University of Lincoln announced its £20 million masterplan to redevelop the Riseholme campus north of the city, including agri-tech research developments and 750 new homes.

Plans for the 212-hectare site were put up for consultation and are available to view online until March 20.

Agriculture, research, science, heritage and sports facilities would be built to secure the future of the site as a heritage asset and grow its specialisms in the agri-food technology industry.

The additional homes on the site would fund new university facilities, teaching and research.

Meanwhile, Riseholme College, part of Bishop Burton College, is building a £23 million new campus near Riseholme, at the edge of Lincolnshire Showground off Tillbridge Lane.

College disputes university’s plans

Jeanette Dawson, Principal and Chief Executive at Riseholme College and Bishop Burton College, has challenged the proposals which would see the majority of the campus facilities and an educational farm bulldozed.

She said: “I’m someone who believes in putting students first in the county. It was disheartening to see plans that don’t indicate they’ve got education and young people at their heart.

“We’ve been in the dark about the plans, so we can only see the masterplan on the website which, together with the consultation, is very flimsy.

“A lot of the land where the 750 homes will go is parkland and farmland.

“The only buildings currently used by Risholme College that look to remain are the old hall, which is listed anyway, and the church, which again the university cannot touch.

“Everything we rent like the students’ residential buildings (which are only about 12 years old), the farm and the equine facilities on campus would be gone. A lot of the development there has been financed with government funds.

“I don’t know if people will realise the impact. The plans could destroy opportunities for young people who would lose the benefit of having an agricultural facility. It’s almost like Riseholme would be gone forever.

“I’m not convinced by the education facilities that are being promised on the site. They say they will build a field centre, but that isn’t really a vital facility. Our 3,000 students across the sites are not engaged with the current field centre.

“I also don’t know what they mean by a ‘model farm’ when the students need access to the real farm that is already on the site with real livestock.

“The livestock on the site will go. Students have been finding it difficult to access the farm for some time and they’ve been stopped from using it by the university.

“Buildings like the rural skills centre and the centre of vocational excellence, which was built with government money, would be lost.

“The university says they plan on building a heritage centre but they will be bulldozing heritage assets to one of the country’s only agriculture college to do so. What’s the point?

“We are fortunate that we had the foresight to begin work at the Lincolnshire Showground campus and we have benefitted from relationships with surrounding farmers, but that’s not the point. Once the farm is lost it will be gone forever.

“We are battling a perception that our Showground campus is a substitute for Riseholme but it was always meant as an expansion and to be complementary. We now have 12 acres at the Showground, but we are losing 978 acres at Riseholme.

“Of course we want to extend our lease at the site beyond 2020, but we were never promised that.

“Ultimately I am hoping for a wider understanding of what the plans will mean for the site and for a more extensive consultation.”

University “disappointed” with “misinformation”

Elly Sample, Director of Communications at the University of Lincoln, said: “Our vision for Riseholme sets out a multimillion pound investment for Lincolnshire.

“It will support advanced agricultural and environmental scientific research and the heritage centre will open up Riseholme’s historic past for the public.

“We are disappointed by Ms Dawson’s claims, and that misinformation continues to be circulated about the university’s educational vision for our Riseholme campus.

“We would encourage members of the public to view our masterplan and find out for themselves what it really means for Lincolnshire. If anyone would like to talk to us about our proposals, they are most welcome to contact us.”