Monday, 10 November 2014

Nottingham Uni migrates to Beeston just as I complete my extended map

On the Noticeboard page of today's Nottingham Post, under 'What's On' there is an entry for Beeston which reads 'The University of Nottingham is hosting a Christmas cake and craft sale… on C Floor of the Portland Building next to the juice bar'.

On Saturday I posted a section of a City of Nottingham map dated 1914 showing the present-day area covered by the main campus of the University and making the point that seven of the large houses marked on the map include the place name 'Lenton' in their title. In 1914 this was very much the up-market end of Lenton.

To this day, the main campus remains in the City of Nottingham and is still part of historic Lenton, but this migration of the University's location by the Post to Beeston comes not far behind another claim by a Beestonian to make the campus part of Beeston.

I lift the following from the 3 October 2014 post to the Beestonia blog headed 'Oxjam – Two Week Klaxon':

We have also partnered this year with the University, who will be running an event called ‘THIS IS BEESTON!’ at Bartons throughout the day. This is an attempt to further bonds between town and gown, by showing students what we can offer them on the other side of the West Entrance. What better day to do this than at Oxjam? We’re dead lucky having a campus next door, it’s existence does a great deal to keep Beeston special, and not just a forgotten bit of urban sprawl outside the city. I even got a wife out of it. Let’s make this relationship even stronger.

Reading these words by Matt Goold at the time prompted me to start work on creating a 'eastward' extension of my Beeston Tram Map, which is not far from completion. My plan is to have it ready for not long after Susan and I have moved to Beeston in less than two weeks time (yes, that close after nearly a year!), so here is a sneak preview.

The next time you see this it will be part of a Beeston Tram Map running from Cator Lane in the west to the QMC in the east, or, as I intend to bill it, from Chilwell's Barton Gallery to the Lakeside Arts Centre and onto Nottingham Contemporary and the New Art Exchange in Hyson Green and all with The Tram passing by.

Having spent the last thirty-five years in Lenton (half my life) and thirty of them watching the University grow unchecked I do not share all of Matt's enthusiasm for the benefits the University brings. I will be leaving a street where just three out of twenty-three houses are not  owned by private landlords and occupied by students, nor do any of these properties pay council tax.

The University has blighted Lenton with the blessing of Nottingham City Council, Very belatedly the City Council is attempting to do something to protect other parts of the city, but it made selling our house very difficult and a traumatic experience. I do not wish on a single Beeston street the fate which has befallen every street in Lenton, so Matt, be careful of what you wish for!

Once in Beeston, this is a debate I intend to take part in and I will actively support those who want percentage limits on the number of HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) in any one street. My first question to Broxtowe Borough Council will be 'How many properties in the borough, and the number per street, are exempt from Council Tax because they are occupied by students from 2010–2011 to 2014–2015?' Hopefully, this is a question they will already know the answer to, as others will have already asked it.

I am not anti-student or University. Far from it, but if Beeston is to remain special, then it has to avoid becoming a young mono-culture. We shall see, but as my Tram map extension shows I do agree that Beeston can benefit from a relationship with Nottingham University, providing it does not allow itself to be seduced by them.

With restrictions now in place within the city, private landlords, the University and students will be licking their lips at the prospect of devouring an unsuspecting Beeston. You have been warned by one who knows!

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