16 June 2023
The RAU is inviting local people to come and find out more about its plans to develop a sustainable, carbon neutral, Innovation Village on a 29-acre site at the University's Cirencester campus.
The University initially unveiled its plans for the proposed £100m development, which will be home to a community of entrepreneurs, policymakers, practitioners, and researchers committed to addressing major global challenges, in January and it is now inviting the public to come and see the plans for themselves.
RAU Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter McCaffery said: “Ever since we first discussed this concept, we have always felt that it is vitally important to engage with local people, as well as other stakeholders and businesses, not only to keep them abreast of our plans but also to make sure they are able to ask us any questions they may have.
“Although the RAU is a global university, our home town of Cirencester will always be very special to us. While we know we need to grow and develop, it is vital that we take the town with us on this journey and that we help the people of the town to understand what we are doing and why, and give them to opportunity to have their say.”
The RAU is holding two open sessions on Tuesday 27 June for local people to come and find out more. There will be a short 20-minute presentation from RAU staff and the Innovation Village architects followed by plenty of time for guests to ask any questions, or raise any concerns, they may have.
As well as these two public sessions, the University is also holding separate meetings with many local businesses and organisations as well as community groups, councils, and charities, to give them the opportunity to feedback on the plans. The University hopes to be in a position to submit a planning application to Cotswold District Council later this year with a view to hopefully gaining full planning consent by next spring.
Professor McCaffery added: “The Innovation Village, which will comprise a number of integrated areas including a Research and Innovation centre, live/work residential units, business start-up and support spaces, as well as business and conferencing hospitality facilities, is central to the RAU’s vision. It aims to support industry, food producers, farmers, and landowners in developing sustainable solutions to food production while maintaining soil health and building resilience in rural communities.
“Our location in Cirencester is important to us and we are committed to ensuring that the Innovation Village will push the boundaries of sustainable design to ensure a development that is beautiful, carbon neutral, rich in nature, and inspires innovation through its environment.”
The community engagement sessions will take place at the University’s Alliston Centre, which houses the Cirencester Growth Hub and the RAU’s agritech incubator Farm491, on Tuesday 27 June.
There will be a breakfast/before work session, taking place between 08.00 and 09.30, and an evening/after work session which will run from 18.00 until 19.30. Spaces are limited and anyone who would like to attend will need to register for a free ticket for one of the events at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/657442908437.
In addition, for those without transport, or anyone who does not wish to drive, the RAU shuttle bus is being made available to transport people to and from the venue, from Cirencester town centre, for each of the sessions. Seats on the shuttle bus are free and can also be booked at the same time as the tickets.
In the 2022 Research Excellence Framework, more than half of the RAU’s research was deemed to be “world-leading and international in quality” making the Cirencester University the leading specialist university in England.
The University anticipates that, in the first five years of operation, the new Innovation Village will double the current new business output of both the Cirencester Growth Hub and Farm491 as well as providing skills, training, employment, and affordable housing, targeted towards improving retention of 16-24yr olds in the local area.
Professor McCaffery concluded: “As well as working with stakeholders and industry, it has always been our intention to engage with the local community and local businesses throughout the whole process, offering them the chance to find out more at these information and Q&A sessions.”
More information about the Innovation Village plans can be found at www.rau.ac.uk/innovationvillage and at https://www.rau.ac.uk/about-rau/news-and-events/events/royal-agricultural-university-launches-its-vision-ps100m.