Recording of Estates Masterplan Town Hall now available to view

The Quad in spring, with pink blossom in the foreground
The Quad in spring, with pink blossom in the foreground
A Town Hall on UCL’s strategic priorities, with a focus on the upcoming Estates Masterplan consultation, was held on 21 February. The recording and a summary are now available to view.

The event was chaired by Professor Rebecca Shipley, Vice Dean Health (Engineering) and Director of Institute of Healthcare Engineering and the panel consisted of: 
  • Dr Michael Spence, President & Provost 
  • Aimie Chapple, Vice President (Operations) 
  • Julie Whetton, Executive Director of Estates Development 
  • Professor Paola Lettieri, Vice President (Strategy) and Pro Provost (UCL East) 
  • Professor Kathleen Armour, Vice President (Student Experience & Education)

Summary of events 

Change Builders 

The Chair introduced three speakers on the subject of ’Change Builders’ - teams across UCL who are working behind the scenes to make improvements to systems and processes that benefit all’of us. These were: 

    Dr Rob Hynds, who spoke about the UCL Profiles , a new system to help increase the visibility of UCL’s research staff 

    Isabel Goncalves Cattuzzo and Uzma Saddiq, who spoke about the new Careers Framework for UCL’s thousand or so skilled technical staff. 

Estates Masterplan presentation and Q&A 

Professor Paola Lettieri introduced the Estates Masterplan, setting out UCL’s vision for its campuses as part of the overarching Strategic Plan 2022-27. The Masterplan consultation and development will run alongside (and as an enabler for) the ’Shape’ consultation, which will articulate UCL’s longer-term academic ambitions, especially in the run-up to the bicentenary in 2026. 

Julie Whetton, Executive Director of Estates Development, then spoke about the forthcoming consultation for the Estates Masterplan, covering the background, the imperative for change, the challenge and the timelines for the consultation: 
  • The development of the Masterplan is envisaged as a ’by all, for all’ conversation for everyone in our community to contribute ideas around how UCL’s vast estate could be better used, over the next quarter of a century, to inspire and enable the very best in our students and staff, with sustainability, inclusivity, and student and staff welfare at its heart. 
  • We are a global player in terms of impact, but the hard truth is that in many cases our estate does not match up to this and has not responded to changing needs, for example those around accessibility, and has a significant maintenance backlog. 
  • Our vast estate is the setting for our success and we’re already making progress in terms of new spaces and sustainability goals. But now we need to consider what else might we need, and what we could do differently and better: how can we make better use of better space, and what practical and future-proof steps can we take now to ensure that our long-term academic vision is supported and enabled. 

  • Over the next six months we want to hear your views and will be in touch with a variety of ways to connect with us and provide feedback. As the consultation progresses, the Masterplan SharePoint site will be updated.  

The panel then moved on to questions from the audience around the Estates Masterplan, which included discussion on plans to increase rest, eating and social spaces across the estate, addressing concerns about accessibility, tapping into UCL’s academic expertise in the built environment, and quick wins over the next year to address buildings that are in a poor state. 

General Q&A 

The Q&A was then opened up for answers and discussion by the wider panel. Among the subjects under discussion were: 
  • the possibility of creating a science park or similar facility to enable collaboration with industry and other institutions; 
  • how to engage in the Masterplan consultation; 
  • the possibility of a personnel review alongside the Masterplan to ensure that matters such as safety are co-ordinated more effectively; 
  • how UCL’s spaces have changed since the switch to hybrid working for many staff; 
  • whether security, cleaning and catering staff will be brought in-house; 
  • UCL’s position on giving public statements on complex geopolitical issues such as Israel and Gaza; 
  • the impact of the cost of living crisis on UCL’s staff and ability to attract the best talent; 
  • how to amplify the community voice in decision making, whether a change of government would be beneficial for the HE sector; 
  • the impact of moving UCL’s Professional Services staff to Bidborough House.  

You can hear the panel’s responses to these questions in the recording above. 

Thanks to all’of you who attended and submitted questions. We are working on collating and gathering answers to the rest of the questions submitted during the session, and will publish these as soon as possible.
  • University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT (0) 20 7679 2000