University of Warwick unveils plans to create large publicly accessible eco-park in south Warwickshire

At 48.8 hectares, the eco-park will be comparable in size to Coventry’s popular Memorial Park

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 10:00 am

The University of Warwick has unveiled plans to create a large publicly accessible eco-park.

Today (June 17) the university submitted a proposal to create a new 48 hectare public eco-park on the south side of its campus for consideration in the South Warwickshire Local Plan.

This application is being endorsed and supported by Warwickshire County Council due to the potential gains for net biodiversity and carbon reduction.

The University of Warwick has unveiled plans to create a large publicly accessible eco-park. Photo supplied

The new eco-park will help support and develop an even more sustainable future for the campus, its students and staff, and its surrounding communities.

At 48.8 hectares, the eco-park will be comparable in size to Coventry’s popular Memorial Park.

It will be open to the public as well as students and university staff, and is said to 'make a significant contribution to sustainable development delivering substantial community benefits to Coventry, Kenilworth, and the rest of south Warwickshire'.

The new eco-park will be constructed around three core themes:

~ Discovery – It will provide new recreational space for students, staff and the public, with pedestrian and cycle paths, including the established Sustrans route, which will connect main campus to the Greenway and Kenilworth Road with a sculpture trail and picnic areas.

~ Ecology – It will also include nature reserves, supporting even more diverse wildlife with new and enhanced wildlife habitats linking into the heart of campus, which will provide opportunities for nature study for local schools

~ Energy – space for renewable energy generation to serve the campus and potentially the wider community.

The eco-park will be designed to support the shift towards more sustainable and active forms of transport, including a much-improved network of pedestrian and cycle routes, and a boarding point for any future 'Very Light Rail' services to the campus.

It will also form part of the university’s transport strategy to help develop and champion more sustainable transport links to (and surrounding) the main campus, including a possible nearby future train station, and roads that are more configured to better support additional environmentally friendly forms of transport such as cycling.

The University of Warwick’s vice-chancellor, Professor Stuart Croft, said: “This is the biggest single development announcement the University of Warwick has made in decades.

"I am sure it will surprise many that it is for a huge 48+ hectare public eco park rather than a set of buildings.

“The last 15 months of lockdowns and isolation have brought home to us all the value of getting outside to walk, exercise, or just simply relax, somewhere green, free and accessible.

"Coventry and Warwickshire has several great such spaces but this last year has certainly increased almost everyone’s desire for even more.”

“If this finds favour in the new Local Plan for south Warwickshire it will be so much more than just a great green public space for students, university staff, and all our surrounding communities.

"It will be a 48+ hectare sized green conscience, that for decades will help shape all our decisions on the travel links we create to it, and any structures we build near it to be green, sustainable, transport links and buildings.”

Welcoming the application, Cllr Heather Timms, portfolio holder for heritage, culture and the environment, said: “The University of Warwick’s application to create a new publicly accessible eco-park on their campus is a significant step forward in managing the climate change emergency in Warwickshire.

"The benefits that this will bring to the area in terms of net biodiversity, carbon minimisation and encouraging us all to make a switch to safe and active travel solutions are very welcome.

“There is already a lot of fantastic work going on across Warwickshire to help achieve our target of being net zero by 2030 and minimise the effects that we all have on our fast-changing climate and this planned eco-park is a shining example of the commitment of the county and everyone living and working in it to make a difference.

“On behalf of all of Warwickshire County Council, I would like to thank The University of Warwick for their foresight and commitment to playing their part in facing the challenges of the climate emergency by creating something important and beautiful that will be enjoyed by generations to come.”