Hartpury celebrates construction milestone for flagship university building


Hartpury University celebrated a construction milestone on Friday 7 July as the Gloucestershire institution’s flagship higher education building - the University Learning Hub, reached its highest point of construction.

Staff and governors from Hartpury University were joined at the topping out ceremony by Mark Harper MP, representatives from the Forest of Dean District Council and construction teams.

Led by Vitruvius Management Services, designed by architects Roberts Limbrick and built by Halsall Construction, the project is part-funded from the Government’s Levelling Up initiative – a successful partnership bid led by Forest of Dean District Council. The building will be instrumental in unlocking both staff and student growth as well helping to attract and retain talent in the locality.

The stunning curved structure of the £12.75m building has now taken shape, mirroring Graze that successfully opened in September 2022, in design and sustainability features. Attendees gathered on the roof, following a tour of the under-construction hub that covers around 3048m2.

This cleverly designed space will be at the centre of an immersive higher education experience at Hartpury (rated 6th in the UK for Teaching in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide). The two-storey space will provide dynamic open plan space on the ground floor where students can collaborate with peers, relax after lectures, or catch up with friends over a Costa Coffee at the Red and Black café or via the self-service kitchen. They’ll also be able to access a range of important student support services such as the Innovation, Careers and Enterprise (ICE) team, Academic Registry, and Student Services.

The first floor will offer an altogether different environment, where students can take advantage of a quiet place to study and access modern classrooms. Here, the university library will support students to access the latest research and journal articles and prove a vital point of reference as they progress along their higher education pathway and prepare for employment (97% of graduates are in employment, further study or other purposeful activity, according to Graduate Outcomes 2023).

The building will be accessible to students 24/7, 365 days a year. Green roofing and landscaping will ensure the building helps local biodiversity and respects the environment, making it great for students and the environment alike. In addition, it will provide a warm, welcoming environment for students to access and study and is part of a wider package to help students with the overall cost of living.

Rt Hon Mark Harper MP, MP for Forest of Dean District Council and Secretary of State for Transport, said: “It’s been fantastic to work with Hartpury through its journey from a college-only institution to the university and college we see today. I’d like to thank all of the organisations involved for working in partnership on this project and I look forward to seeing it again when it reaches completion.”

Mark Price, Managing Director of Vitruvius Management Services – the project lead, said: “We’re pleased to be able to share this construction milestone with our client Hartpury, architects Roberts Limbrick, Halsall Construction, and the wider team. I look forward to the delivery of this modern facility to future-proof Hartpury’s built environment, supporting the high-quality education establishment to fulfil their strategic vision.”

Johnathan Lane, Cabinet Member for Levelling Up at Forest of Dean District Council, said: “It’s fantastic to see the new University Learning Hub taking shape at Hartpury and I know that it will play an important role for many who are interested in furthering their education in the Forest of Dean.

“It’s especially pleasing to hear about the sustainability features that are being incorporated into the building and the wider area, with the new car park also providing 32 new electric vehicle charging points for users.

“We can't wait to see the future at Hartpury and our other Levelling Up sites and look forward to residents and visitors enjoying them for many years to come.”

Rosie Scott-Ward, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Hartpury University, said: “Today marks an exciting point in our journey as we look ahead to launching our first building designed exclusively for our higher education students. The building will house some of our most important university student services in one place, serving their study and social needs as well as providing valuable access to guidance and support. It’ll also have some key sustainability features to future proof this facility for years to come, including rainwater harvesting and bat boxes. 

“I’d like to thank our local MP Mark Harper, the Forest of Dean District Council and our construction and project partners for helping to bring this unique building to life.”

The Hartpury University Learning Hub is expected to reach completion during the 2023/24 academic year.

New car park 

Earlier in the day, Hartpury also marked the completion of a new car park that has added 32 electrical charging points within a 353-space parking area. Located near the entrance, the new car park will enable better control of vehicles and will reduce campus traffic movement. The site area is only visible from a limited number of viewpoints and Hartpury has planted a range of trees and hedgerows to help the environment and reduce visibility further.

Picture: Chris Faulkner – MD, Halsall Construction, Stuart Emmerson – Director of Business Development at Hartpury University and Hartpury College, Andrew Grant – Interim Head of Paid Service at Forest of Dean District Council, Cllr Chris McFarling – Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency at Forest of Dean District Council, Mark Price – MD of Vitruvius Management Services, Edward Keene – Chair of Governors for Hartpury University and Hartpury College, Chris Moody OBE – Hartpury University Board Vice-Chair, Bert Salt – Senior Project Manager, Vitruvius Management Services, Rt Hon Mark Harper MP – MP for Forest of Dean District Council and Secretary of State for Transport, Barry Doidge – Site Manager, Halsall Construction, Lynn Forrester-Walker – Chief Operating Officer for Hartpury University and Hartpury College, Keir Lindsay – Roberts Limbrick, Barbara Buck – Hartpury College Board Vice-Chair, David Milner – Contracts Manager, Halsall Construction, Rosie Scott-Ward – Deputy Vice-Chancellor Hartpury University, Graeme Brooks – Head of Property Hartpury University and Hartpury College, Nicola Thorogood – Design Manager, Halsall Construction, Laura Crook - Halsall Construction