SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

The University is committed to making its Estate, Northampton Town, and South-East Midlands inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. We look to achieve this through continued engagement and partnership building at a local and regional level.

Sustainable Development Goals - 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

Sustainable practices

The University recognises that its activities can have a negative impact on the environment, both locally and globally and is committed to mitigating against these by making sustainable development an integral part of its operations.

The former campuses (Park and Avenue) of University of Northampton were a collection of buildings developed and refurbished over time. Avenue Campus was built in the 1920s as Northampton Technical College and Park Campus arose from a College of Education which was created in the 1970s in a parkland on the outskirts of the Town in an area called Kingsthorpe. In May 2013, a decision was made by the Board of Governors to start anew with a brand-new purpose-built University Campus on a brownfield site closer to the town.

The new Waterside Campus, which is open to the public, is located along the River Nene, a short walk to the town centre, surrounded by green parks and situated in a landscape of natural, cultural and historical significance. Costing over £330 million, the campus was built to BREEAM sustainable construction standard (buildings (Creative Hub, Learning Hub, Senate) and Student Union), and completed in time to receive students in October 2018. The development involved the remediation of ex-industrial land and the creation of new University buildings and landscape within the 58-acre site. The Campus includes a number of pedestrian and cycle paths which connect Northampton town centre with Delapre Abbey.

Before the Waterside development received planning approval, there were numerous environmental impact assessments and landscape planning design strategies developed in partnership with local authorities, Environment Agency and stakeholders. Examples include flood prevention and response plans, historical monument assessments and ecological surveys were commissioned and designing the campus with pedestrians in mind using the principles of Manual for Streets making Waterside a no-car campus.

As part of our wellbeing activities and allowing access to open and green spaces we have adapted and expanded the Memorial Garden situated on Nunn Mills Island, relocating benches from our Park and Avenue Campuses.  This garden is open to the public, as well as the University community and is often used by members of the public after visiting Beckett Park.

The Waterside Campus has been purpose-built with an intelligent technology infrastructure in place enabling the University to support new ways of teaching, learning and working. This put the University in a strong position when responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, staff are able to work and teach remotely and to allow our courses to continue to be based on our Active Blended Learning approach.

To ensure students, staff, visitors and the local community around our campus are safe the University operates a 24/7 University Security Team. To further strengthen safety and security on and around campus, the University partnered with Northamptonshire Police as part of the Safer Routes Home Project to create a University Police Team.

Please check out our latest research for SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

  • During the development of the Waterside Campus extensive stakeholder engagement was undertaken across several sustainability issues, including travel. As a result of this was the framework for our Travel Plan. The plan was developed in 2018 and outlined how the University intends to implement and promote specific measures to help staff, students and visitors commute to the University’s sites via sustainable measures and aims to reduce single occupancy journeys by 20% in 5 years. Further details of our plans for future travel initiatives will be outlined in the new Travel Plan and Parking Management Strategy 2023 – 2028 (coming soon).

    The Travel Plan aims to;

    • Reduce the environmental impact of travel associated with the University
    • Reduce parking congestion on campus and in the locality during term-time
    • Improve the options available for travel to the University, and between sites
    • Improve the safety and accessibility of travel within and to the University.

    The University has a partnership with Stagecoach buses and operates a Park and Ride facility on the west side of Northampton. The Stagecoach Bus service has been adapted to suit the needs of staff and students across all sites, covering the Student Village at Boughton Green Road, the Innovation Centre (Northampton rail station stop), town centre and bus station and Waterside Campus (short walk to St Johns Halls and the Development Hub), and is subsidised by the University to ensure staff and students can afford to utilise this service.

    Information is regularly provided to our student and staff community on sustainable commuting options, including:

    • Social media updates relating to the Stagecoach bus and sustainable transport options
    • Travel and Stagecoach messages on our Waterside Real Time Passenger Information Units
    • Internal communication channels, such as TV screens, Energy Tower and eNewsletters used regularly to promote all our travel initiatives and communicated changes and deadlines
    • Staff and student travel roadshow In January 2020 including a Dr Bike session and bike marking in conjunction with the UON Policing team and UON Campus Security
    • Maps and website content have been regularly produced and updated to inform staff and students of changes
    • Bike User Group made up off staff and students to help develop new ideas, improvements and spread information to departments and faculties
    • Supporting the local authority in the VOI eScooter trials as an official docking area
    • Student Bike Loan Scheme
  • As part of the University’s commitment to preserving local heritage and arts, the University’s sculpture collections were moved to the Waterside Campus and has been placed as specially designed areas. As the campus is open to the public, a Sculpture Trail Leaflet has been produced enabling both the University and local communities to explore the collection and the Campus itself.

    The University contributes to the local arts through a series of annual performances and ongoing performances which are performed to members of the public and available online. Thirty-four second year Acting students who would normally perform to the public at the end of the academic year, took their Shakespeare shows online as a result of COVID-19, which are still open to the public to view.

    Our wider schools’ and community engagement work supports students of the University in gaining experience in show casing their work as well as inspiring young people to consider entering the Arts. Following the lift of COVID-19 restrictions final year students studying our Popular Music course, got the opportunity to perform live to members of the public in an open air concert held in Northampton.

    Home to the Students’ Union, the Engine Shed is a Grade-II listed former railway building that was brought back from dereliction when it was restored by the University for the Waterside Campus development. The careful restoration has landed the building with its biggest award to date, after it was named the overall winner of the National Railway Heritage Awards 2020.

  • The University is committed to recording and preserving heritage at a local, regional and national level. Searchlight Magazine is an organisation which investigates and apposes fascism, anti-Semitism and racism in Britain and abroad. The Searchlight Archive at the University has, as its main collection, the material collected by Searchlight over the course of more than 50 years, preserving the heritage of Britain’s longest running anti-fascist organisation, which was made available to the public in 2013. Further details on the work of Searchlight and the University support in preserving the collection can be found in an article in the Journal for Deradicalization and Gale CENGAGE package.

    Expanding on this commitment to preserve cultural heritage the collection has grown from the original one collection to incorporate other collections, including the Heritage Lottery Funded Race Act 40 project which records experiences of racism in Northamptonshire, particularly Wellingborough. The University has provided expert advice on archiving storage, helped provide volunteers and now store the collection in perpetuity.

    The University working with the Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council provides free training on extreme right courses using archive material and to share culture and history beyond the archive we provide many speakers for local Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations, as well as contributing to History’s holding of Holocaust Memorial Day events here at the University.

    To enable others to share the work contained within the archive the University has partnered with Gale CENGAGE to help them construct a primary source package including the use of a range of media, such as blogs of students and their experiences.

    More widely, material from the University Archive is used to inform several scholarly works on history, contributions to radio interviews with Canada’s Radio 1, with British Forces Broadcasting Services radio, as well as numerous pieces that try to use the Universities material to help understand and contextualise current events.

  • The University is committed to supporting the Arts through several modules contained within courses delivered.

    The University is committed to supporting Sustainable Cities and Communities through modules within the following courses:

  • The University is committed to pushing the SDG 2030 agenda across its networks, and using its partnerships and resources to drive impact towards SDG11 through our support for Northampton Social Enterprise Town, which seeks to enable the growth of social impact businesses in the town and increase trade between the private, public and third sectors. Internationally, the University has also supported partners, particularly in Asia, to inform national and global policy relevant to the SDGs. This has included work in Vietnam with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to create a supportive ecosystem for social businesses (Impact Link).

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