DREAMS of 2,000 jobs being created in a £100 million University of Worcester development are over - with bosses abandoning the scheme.

The Worcester News can exclusively reveal how the huge 'University Park' project, which promised to revamp a 27-acre site in St John's into a business, science, health and enterprise 'hub', has officially been officially scrapped.

The university's vice-chancellor Professor David Green said the ambitious scheme failed to get enough interest from investors to make it viable.

Back in 2009 the university bought the land, known as Grove Farm, from Tesco with the goal of transforming it into a major new complex in partnership with private businesses.

But despite leading the way in virtually all of the city's other top developments in recent years, it has admitted defeat.

The Worcester News visited the site over the weekend, which is looking increasingly tired.

Cotswold Journal:

Some old planning paperwork referring to the site's now-ditched proposals can still be found stuck on railings, but the old banners advertising University Park to investors have long been taken down.

Cotswold Journal:

Professor Green said: "We appointed a really good development company which had worked with Cambridge University, and created a really good scheme, but after four years of trying we've given up.

"We just couldn't get the interest, we couldn't get the advanced manufacturing, the enterprise on there.

"Not everything a university does, works - we've tried really hard but we just haven't been successful on that."

Cotswold Journal:

The decision is a blow to city leaders, who were hoping on the site giving Worcester a serious economic boost.

We understand the university had already spent significant money on the infrastructure, including widening the road, getting outline planning permission and putting in utilities like gas and water.

The only developments on the site are the £4.5 million St John's House Medical Centre, which opened in 2014, and 160 Sanctuary Housing elderly care units.

Councillor Adrian Gregson, leader of Worcester City Council, said: "Worcester is still a great place for investment.

"We're working very hard with our partners including the LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership), the university, county council and others who are all very keen to ensure we continue to get inward investment."

Cotswold Journal:

Worcester MP Robin Walker said: "It's important to recognise the university has done an awful lot of regeneration work in the city, and continues to do so.

"Clearly, it would have been a lot more attractive if the southern link work was complete - logically, there are sites for investors with better access in other parts of the city.

"Equally there are people on the west of Worcester who will be relieved this isn't going ahead.

"But we all want to see Worcester continue to grow and attract investment."

Cotswold Journal:

The award-winning £60 million Hive, £90 million city campus and £20 million University Arena are just two of the major university developments in recent years.

It has also completely transformed the city council's old Orchard House complex, which is now a law school, and intends to revamp the former County Furnishings site off Castle Street into a £2 million flexible arts facility.


1990s/early 2000 - Three planning inquiries support the preference to leave Grove Farm, off Bromyard Road, as 'open land'

January 2003 - Public inquiry into Worcester City Council’s local plan, including the future of Grove Farm, begins

May 2004 - Part of the site is included in plans to relocate the then-Christopher Whitehead High School to the neighbouring Earl’s Court Farm

May 2005 - Proposals to turn Grove Farm into a business park and create thousands of jobs emerge

March 2006 - After a failed bid to relocate Christopher Whitehead Language College, Spen Hill Developers - a subsidiary of Tesco - looks at building office blocks, a supermarket and car parking on the site

June 2006 - Worcestershire County Council considers proposals to build a park-and-ride on the land

May 2007 - Worcester City Council approves Spen Hill Developers’ outline planning application to develop an office and general industrial park, but nothing ever happens

March 2009 - The university announces it has bought the site for an undisclosed fee from Tesco and unveils its own vision for the site

March 2012 - Outline planning permission for the University Park, creating 2,000 jobs, gets the go-ahead

March 2013 - The city council say it is happy with it being a 'mixed use' development, and a detailed planning application for the Sanctuary Housing accommodation is voted through some months later

April 2015 - After acquiring Orchard House and the old County Furnishings site, the university announces a 'pause' on University Park

February 2017 - Vice-chancellor Professor David Green confirms the scheme has been scrapped, saying investors were reluctant to come forward