Town may go broke if university relocates

Landlords are reeling from news that £90 million could be earmarked to close a university campus and shift 16 miles away to a new purpose built site.

The plan for Staffordshire University could leave student landlords in Stafford high and dry – while nearby Stoke has to find homes for 4,500 extra students.

The move would have a major impact on Stafford’s economy – and give a major boost to Stoke.

If the plan comes to fruition, student landlords in Stafford could see how prices fall and their tenants melt away – while those in Stoke would experience the opposite.

Locals fear shops, bars and other businesses would close in Stafford and relocate with the university.

The university has designs on a 15-acre city centre site where Stoke’s civic centre, the former Spode ceramic works and a car park are sited.

Vice-chancellor Michael Gunn said: “We are aware of the site. But we are not involved in any discussions with the council over it.

“With all the changes in higher education funding, and the consequences of that, this is the right time to have a new estate strategy. If we are going to invest in our estate, we have to make sure we are doing the right thing. It’s about the student experience.”

Gunn explained the move was among a number of options to expand the university was considering – and the decision may take another 12 months to reach.

Staffordshire University has 17,000 students spread across Stafford, Stoke and Lichfield in Staffordshire and Shrewsbury in neighbouring Shropshire.

The plan is to close the Beaconside campus in Stafford, which is home to 3,500 students and 400 staff. Engineering courses are already on their way to Stoke.

Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy said he would be battle to try to keep te university in the town, while Stoke’s MP Tristram Hunt welcomes the proposal.

More than 60% of Staffordshire University’s full-time students are already in Stoke.

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