Mid Wales

Aberystwyth University: Old College cultural quarter plan

Aberystwyth University's Old College
Image caption The Old College opened in 1865 as a hotel, but was later bought by a group who founded Aberystwyth University

A Victorian university building in Aberystwyth could be transformed into a postgraduate centre under plans for a new "cultural quarter".

A £60,000 feasibility study will examine how to alter Aberystwyth University's Old College and the costs.

The building opened in 1865 as a hotel, but was later bought by a group of philanthropists who founded the university.

It is home to various departments and is used for teaching.

The university said the Old College was one of finest examples of the work of gothic revival architect John Pollard Seddon.

It is one of the town's most recognisable buildings with spires, towers, gargoyled parapets and steep-pitched roofs "like a French Renaissance chateau".

Plans include creating a "cultural quarter" based around the Old College, a postgraduate centre providing world-class teaching, learning and study spaces, an art gallery, and lecturing and performance facilities.

University vice-chancellor Prof April McMahon said: "Research consistently shows that Aberystwyth University is recognised as one of the best locations to study for undergraduates.

"We want to build on that and develop a world class postgraduate centre.

'Community focus'

"However, the Old College should have a community focus as well as an academic one.

"We want to provide a resource for residents and visitors as well as students and staff.

"Our vision is for state-of-the-art learning facilities, exhibition space, a university shop and a first point of contact for local businesses - truly bringing the town and gown together in a new cultural quarter."

Regeneration Minister Huw Lewis said: "The Old College is an iconic building in Aberystwyth and resonates with present and past students of the university.

"Its location in the centre of the town can provide a focal point to the area's regeneration and the potential ideas put forward sound extremely exciting."

The final feasibility study, which will also include a number of other university properties, is expected to be finished in March 2013.

It will be funded by a Welsh government regeneration fund and the university.

Aberystwyth has been identified as a regeneration area by the Welsh government and up to £10.3m has been made available to invest, which is being used on a number of projects in the town.

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