ROCHESTER

Former UCA campus in Rochester earmarked for 128 flats

14 September 2023In Rochester2 Minutes
The former UCA campus in Rochester. Photo: Google Maps

Plans are being drawn up to turn Rochester’s former University for the Creative Arts (UCA) campus into flats.

The university site on Fort Pitt Hill, which opened in 1970, has been put up for sale after it closed this month.

The listing by estate agent Savills reveals that pre-application discussions took place between UCA and Medway Council over the summer for plans to create 128 flats.

It would include a mix of 15 studio, 72 one-bed, 25 two-bed and 16 three-bed flats.

An architect's impression of the proposal. Photo: Savills
The proposed townhouses at the foot of the UCA building. Photo: Savills

The proposal, designed by architects Child Graddon Lewis, involves splitting the existing university building into two blocks – upper and lower.

It also includes an idea for terraced town houses at the foot of the university building, despite the council indicating a “preference for a redevelopment comprising only apartments”, according to the estate agent.

The existing university building could be extended, but council officers are reportedly “reluctant to see the height increased” due to “heritage concerns.”

The former UCA building at the top of Fort Pitt Hill. Photo: Google Maps

UCA announced the closure of its Rochester campus in 2021, blaming it on not having the £17 million needed to upgrade the building, high running costs and cuts in government funding.

It is thought that about 150 staff and 1,000 students were based at the campus, with courses now being delivered in Canterbury, Epsom and Farnham.

High-profile campaigns and petitions against the closure were set up, including an application by Dr David Stokes, who heads The Halpern Charitable Foundation, to make the building an Asset of Community Value (ACV).

An ACV is a building or piece of land that is used to support the social wellbeing or social interests of a community, such as village shops, pubs and libraries.

However, the council rejected the application in May last year after deciding that the campus did not provide social benefits to the wider community as it was only open to registered students.