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The redesign the spine project faces mounting difficulties after it was revealed that large parts of the redevelopment project have had to been ditched to meet deadlines.
The construction works have been ongoing since the start of the 2016-17 academic year. Initial plans to complete the works in the summer holidays over five years were ditched from a desire to get the works out of the way quickly.
President of the Student’s Union Joshua Woolf has hailed this is as a success in reducing inconvenience for students:
“Working with the Facilities team from the University, I managed to reduce the time and cost of Design the Spine by taking out some projects that would not have benefited students as much as the university’s prospectus pictures.”
“This included the Wetlands Bridge, which was going to a complicated and expensive project, not worth the disruption the work would cause to students. Students have been telling us they want the work finished so they can go back to using the Spine properly, and cutting out the Wetlands Bridge will help speed that up.”
Lancaster University confirmed that the wetlands area of the Spine redesign project had been ditched, but that they intended to return to it at a later date
“Due to the delay of the Spine project we are doing all we can to complete work across campus but also mitigate the impact as much as possible. The Wetland area opposite the Charles Carter building has now been omitted from the original contract so we can focus on completion of the other areas”
“We are still planning to create the Wetland area at a later date with a separate contractor. Our current thinking is that this won’t be delivered until after the LUMS Space Programme is completed as it is close to those works and could potentially cause too much disruption in that area of campus.”
“The Spine project is overrunning for a number of complex reasons but we are targeting completion prior to the start of the academic year (18/19). There will be continuing diversions in place over the next few weeks so please use the Perimeter road where possible or make sure you leave more time to get to your destination.”
“We are currently creating several ‘Quiet Spaces’ away from the Spine, we will be communicating more information on this very soon.”
“We would like to thank students, staff and visitors for their patience while we have carried out the work to the Spine and look forward to seeing the new spaces such as Great Hall Square, Great Hall Court, Physics Garden, Furness College Court and Engineering Square being enjoyed by students,staff and visitors very soon.”
This has not been the first setback for the project. Large sections of the work around the Great Hall has had to be revamped, after it became apparent that the initial paving wasn’t compatible with the fountains installed at the same time The University has made clear that the cost of this mistake would be born by the contractor.
The Spine developments have been a running joke with students on social media hubs like Overheard at Lancaster, and have been criticised for ongoing disruption to on-campus business, notably an alleged 70% fall in profit at Pizzetta Republic at the time, as well as accessibility issues for disabled students.