Cambridge University could double in size in the next 25 years under a multi-million-pound expansion masterplan marking the greatest physical change in its eight-century history. A new campus to the west of the city will house science and technology departments, according to the blueprint being unveiled for public consultation this week.
By 2020, providing fund-raising goes to plan, science students will cycle each morning down a covered colonnade to a landscaped site equipped with labs, lecture halls, shops and cafes.
The proposed campus is the university's response to rising student numbers and pressure to upgrade research facilities to stay abreast of international competition. It will press into use some of the last available university-owned land - 60 hectares of windswept fields a mile and a half from Kings College Chapel and already home to physics laboratories and a veterinary school.
Buildings in crowded central Cambridge vacated by the science faculties will be taken over by other departments, some currently shoehorned into attics. The new campus could double the size of the university, allowing for further growth in the 21st century. The current 16,000-strong student population is projected to increase by almost a quarter by 2020.
The move marks the most decisive jump yet in a gradual westward shift for Cambridge University, gathering pace over the last 30 years as it has outgrown its original buildings.
If planning approval is granted by the city council, the race will be on to raise funds. Buildings will be added as faculties hit funding targets, to designs selected by competition.
But the new campus will not change the tradition of an institution in which all academic disciplines rub shoulders A spokeswoman said: "Departments have always had speciality areas, but students come together in the colleges - the cheek-by-jowl mix will go on."
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