ARU Peterborough Research and Development Centre


Planning permission for ARU Peterborough’s first teaching building was granted by Peterborough City Council in November 2020.

The Applicant is now preparing the proposals for a Research and Development Centre building on the university campus which includes a new building immediately adjacent to the approved teaching building and the construction of a new decked car park on land within Bishop’s Park to the east.

Before the application is submitted to Peterborough City Council we are seeking the views of the local community on the draft proposals and this virtual consultation has been arranged to present the draft proposals.

The Site

The site for the Research and Development Centre building is located in central Peterborough on the Wirrina Car Park to the south of the first teaching building, as shown below. The original site boundary established for the Phase 1 building allowed space for expansion.

In order to accommodate the car parking requirement for the next of development of the university campus, a site to the north of the Regional Pool has been identified for a decked car park. This site is located within the area of land safeguarded in the adopted Peterborough Local Plan for the creation of a new university.

The Proposals


The Research and Development Centre of the ARU Peterborough seeks to create a Net Zero Hub for research and development in Peterborough, as part of the wider Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

The Net Zero Hub aligns with the plan to further develop the key recognised sectors from the region including clean tech, high-value engineering, and information and communication technologies. It also responds to the Grand Challenge that the Government sets out in the National Industrial Strategy on energy and circular economy practices that pioneer clean growth in which Net Zero is a focus.

The Net Zero Hub will enhance Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s position as a global leader in knowledge and innovation. It will allow for harnessing the collective strength from the Cambridge and Peterborough region and the wider collective Arc’s research base – driving greater collaboration on net zero related research to develop a network of “living labs” to trial and commercialise new technologies, attracting international firms to the region.

Scope of development

The Research and Development Centre of the ARU Peterborough will therefore comprise:

  • A 3,300 sqm building, arranged over three floors, designed to be adaptable and flexible. The building will be used for research and development (R&D) purposes and collaborative workspaces.
  • Integration with the first teaching build of the ARU Peterborough;
  • Further opportunity to enhance the public realm by continuing the positive design from the first teaching building
  • A new decked car park to meet the parking requirement for the next stages of development
  • Consolidation of vehicular accesses along Bishop’s Road and creation of a new priority controlled access;
  • Associated works and infrastructure including landscaping, ecological enhancements and Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems.

The Applicant is proposing to submit a hybrid planning application to Peterborough City Council. Full planning permission will be sought for the Research and Development Centre building and outline planning permission for the multi-storey car park.

As the proposed decked car park will be submitted in outline, its detailed design will be reserved for future consideration as part of the Reserved Matters along with landscaping and layout. Details of access and massing in terms of maximum height and footprint parameters will however be submitted for approval as part of the outline application. The scale parameters will allow for the decked car park to meet the parking requirement of up to 180 spaces for the proposed development and potential scope for additional capacity to circa 300-400 spaces to meet future needs of the university campus.

Design Rationale

The Research and Development Centre development will provide good quality, efficient and flexible space for research and development and will create a new high-quality space for the city, completing the transformation of the under-utilised Wirrina car park into a green, well landscaped campus, fully accessible to the public. The building will be designed to both complement and be distinct from the first teaching building and be adaptable and flexible to accommodate future change. The project will promote visibility of research, internally and externally, and will provide inspiring spaces to encourage innovation, collaboration and social interaction.


Location and Footprint

  • The building has been located to be visible from the city and to the car park to the east.
  • With the first teaching building, the building form has been arranged to establish a new public space for the city.
  • Existing views to the cathedral are retained and, through selected tree removal and replacement, new views from the west are created.
  • The building has been located to create a sheltered south facing landscape space anticipating the development of the dense tree belt to the south.

Access and Movement

  • Priority has been given to pedestrian, cycle and public transport use.
  • The alignment of the foot/cycle path, accessing the site from the north west, is extended to connect with the building’s north façade and provide good access to the building’s main entrance.
  • Good access is provided to nearby secure sheltered bike storage.
  • Good access is provided from proposed bus stops in Bishop’s Road.
  • The main entrance is located to face the primary vehicle entrance from Bishop’s Road and the car park, extending activity eastwards across the site.
  • Vehicles will access parking, a drop-off, maintenance lay-by and accessible parking spaces by an extension of the entrance proposed for the first teaching building



  • The building is arranged over three storeys and has a gross internal area of approximately 3,300sqm.
  • The footprint of the building is approximately 1,200sqm.
  • The building height aligns to the height of the first teaching building (circa 13.3m high AOD).


General Arrangement

  • The building is arranged to maximise efficient and flexible research and development spaces over three levels.
  • The building is approximately 18m deep to maximise daylighting and natural ventilation.
  • The main building entrance is located to face north east to the primary entrance from Bishop’s Road and car park. A secondary secure access is provided to the west.
  • Efficient core spaces have been provided to accommodate fire escape, toilet and other support spaces.
  • Primary plant and servicing are provided in a ‘stacked element’ to the south-east enabling the height of the building to be limited to three


Architectural Form

  • The building form is purposely simple and elegant to maximise flexibility, efficiency and promote good daylighting and natural ventilation.
  • The building mass is broken up by architecturally expressing an upper form over a predominately glazed base.
  • The main entrance to the west is expressed by a recessed sheltered arrival space and a formal forecourt.
  • A double height space over the café/entrance provides the building with animation and cross views to upper floors. The volume is expressed on the façade breaking up the building mass and signalling the primary entrance.
  • An increase in height to the south east corner provides an ‘urban marker’ for the building from the east in addition to safe access to the roof.
  • A simple flat roof provides extensive green roof and space for photovoltaics.
  • The set-back primary plant is expressed as a separate sculpted form





Landscape Strategy


Developing on from the approved proposals for the first teaching building, the landscape proposals will create a vibrant, pedestrian centred Campus for Peterborough, with a public courtyard between the buildings providing excellent break-out and collaboration space for building users and the wider community.


Continuing the approach set out to date and in the future vision for ARU Peterborough, pedestrian and cycle connections between Peterborough City Centre and The Embankment leisure facilities and parkland will be improved through the heart of the pedestrian centred campus. Vehicle movements will be limited to service access, visitor drop-off and accessible parking. Motorcycle parking bays and an additional 40 bicycle parking spaces are also provided close to the building entrance.


The active public open space will provide greater passive security, while segregating vehicle and pedestrian movements will improve pedestrian safety.


Continuing the strategy from the first teaching building, surface water drainage will be collected and stored in a series rain gardens, swales and attenuation basins, reducing pressure on the existing sewer network and increase biodiversity through attractive wildflower meadows and marginal planting.


Highways and Transportation

The proposed Research and Development Centre building will be accessed via the approved Phase 1 building access junction from Bishop’s Road. The access will serve the service area to the rear of the building, a small car park immediately east of the building and provide access to cycle parking, motorcycle parking and electric vehicle charging points, which are being delivered as part of this stage of development. It is also proposed to introduce permanent bus stops on Bishop’s Road to further improve the site’s sustainability.

Further car parking provision will be accommodated within a new multi-storey car park, which will be situated to the east of the Regional Pool car park. The multi-storey car park will be served via a new priority-controlled T-junction off Bishop’s Road, which will also serve the existing Regional Pool car park, the Regional Pool and the athletics track. This proposal will therefore consolidate the existing access arrangements into a single access, to improve local highway safety and pedestrian/cycle amenity.

It is anticipated that the multi-storey car park will be delivered alongside the Research and Development Centre building, however, it will be demonstrated that existing city centre car parks will be capable of accommodating increased demand in the short term.

To ensure the impact of the Research and Development Centre development on the operation of the local highway network is fully considered, the development trips made during the morning and afternoon peak hours will be factored into the Council’s Strategic Transport Model. The results of the modelling will quantify any impacts the development may have on queueing and delay at key location junctions and determine whether any improvements are required to safely accommodate the proposed development.

Flood Risk and Drainage

The proposed development footprint is wholly within the Environment Agency Flood Zone 1 and has a low risk of fluvial and tidal flooding. There is also a low risk of flooding from other sources such as surface water, overland flow and groundwater.

Surface water generated from the proposed development will discharge into the Anglian Water surface water sewerage system and subsequently into the River Nene. Surface water flow rates will be controlled to the equivalent ‘greenfield’ condition providing betterment over the existing car park, thereby reducing downstream flood risk. Sustainable drainage elements are incorporated into the design and include a green roof, porous paving, raingardens and detention basin, which combine to provide storage for extreme storm events (up to the 1:100-year return period including a climate change allowance).

Foul water drainage will discharge into a private below ground drainage system which subsequently connects into the Anglian Water foul water sewer adjacent to the site.


In July 2019, Peterborough City Council declared a Climate Change Emergency and has agreed to adopt a far more challenging target than that being proposed by Government; which is to make the Council’s activities net-zero carbon by 2030, and to also help Peterborough become a net-zero carbon city by 2030.

In response to the foregoing, the Research and Development Centre development will:

  • Incorporate energy efficiency measures and best practice design to reduce the inherent energy demand and associated CO2 emissions of the development;
  • Develop a ‘fabric first’ approach with high thermal performance of the building envelope to reduce energy use;
  • Incorporate Low and Zero Carbon (LZC) technology solutions to decarbonise the energy supply and provide further CO2 reduction with a roadmap to zero carbon, such as air source heat pump systems to transfer heat from outside to inside the building;
  • Incorporate recycled materials and materials with low embodied energy impact, locally sourced A and A+ rated construction materials (as defined by the Green Guide to Specification), wherever possible;
  • Incorporate water efficiency measures and Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), such as green roofs and swales for the disposal of surface water and to encourage biodiversity in addition to low water capacity toilets and push button type taps;
  • Incorporate measures to encourage sustainable transport;
  • Incorporate measures to mitigate the effects of climate change, such as provision of solar shading and allowance for natural ventilation throughout the building to stop overheating and provision of attenuation and protection against overland flooding;
  • Include On-site renewables such as photovoltaics on the roof; and
  • Explore the potential for energy storage systems



Your views are important to us and we would appreciate it if you could let us know what you think of the proposals by taking the time to submit your comments using the ‘Comments Form’ below by Friday 12th February 2021.

All comments received will be carefully reviewed and taken into account by the development team in the process of finalising the design for the proposed development. A planning application will then be submitted to Peterborough City Council. As part of the application package we will be preparing a statement summarising the feedback received, together with the response to any issues raised.

Once the application has been registered by Peterborough City Council you will have a formal opportunity to comment on the proposals.