New road names are appearing around the Eastern edges of the town; cars coming down Clingoe Hill have another junction to test their patience. Cyclists are being diverted away from the bus route and along what is left of the old Boundary Road. What can it all means? Knowledge is power my friends, something that the University of Essex is not backwards in coming up forwards along Boundary Road. Confused? Sounds like you need a visit to the new Knowledge Gateway currently being constructed around the outer edges of Wivenhoe Park.
Described by the University as:
“A 43-acre site, offering businesses and organisations state-of-the-art facilities and new opportunities to work closely with us.”
If the business plan falls into place, it should also be a nice little earner for the academics as well. The building of all those new roads doesn’t come cheap, donchtaknow.
But what benefits the University, also hopefully benefits Colchester. Town and Gown has never been stronger. The University is going nowhere – apart from down towards the banks of the Colne. Almost fifty years since the vision to build a forward thinking campus on the beauty of Wivenhoe Park, the consensus is that Colchester is very accepting of the University. The local economy is certainly boosted, not only in employment, but also in students spunking all those generous student loans around the town. The Knowledge Gateway will only further this relationship.
Construction on the site infrastructure is now complete. Anyone fortunate enough to ride the number 78 Bus of Fun can’t have failed to notice the streets lights that now light up all these fancy new road names. The lights are on, but no one is at home; the roads may be there, but the residents aren’t. That will all come later, with the planned 420 students residences that is up before the Planning Committee of Colchester Borough Council later in the week.
The landscape is changing rapidly, with construction now stretching down to the edges of the Colne for the first time. It may appear an uncertain land grab, but it is nothing new for Britain’s Oldest Recorded Town. Stand towards the top of Clingoe Hill and gaze out towards all the glory of the Greenstead. Fields of grazing sheep would have greeted you in the past. Safe as houses, knowledge is power etc.
The building of the Knowledge Gateway has not been without controversy for the locals. Commuters coming into town via Clingoe Hill now have another junction feeding into the business park. The feared major disruption for the whole of the Tendring Peninsula failed to materialise over the summer when a single lane system was in place. The long-term inconvenience remains to be seen.
As is the case with any contemporary urban planning, cyclists seem to have fared better. Boundary Road now fizzles out somewhere past the South Towers, with the busses passing down the newly constructed Nesfield Road. Boundary Road going forward is now nothing but a ghost ride, fading out to become a rather generously sized cycle lane following the curve of the old University owned road. The undergraduate Avon Way shortcut is but a distant memory, along with affordable higher education.
The industry of the Colne has long since been lost in Colchester, but as the town changes, so does the economy. Down by the muddy banks of the Colne, where coal once came in from Newcastle and sand was shipped back, now we have the 21st century economy of knowledge delivering the message of brains over brawn. All knowledge comes at a cost however.
Meanwhile, the Georgian splendour of Wivenhoe House – once the centerpiece of the whole park – now has a new noisy neighbour spring up next door. Venue Essex [urgh] is an ambitious attempt by our friends on campus to kick-start the tourism trade by offering a degree in hotel management. It’s got to be more fun than applied mathematics:
“Opening in Spring of 2012, the new inspirational hotel will feature; period suites and rooms, a new garden wing, a signature restaurant for more formal dining, a brasserie for informal dining, and meeting rooms, all designed to provide the best of the quintessential modern country house experience with an intriguing edge.”
It will also provide a training ground for the bright young Basil Fawlty’s of future generations. A great idea, but something of a dodgy design. They’ll be building Iron Curtain inspired tower blocks on the banks of the Colne next. It will never catch on…