Imperial College London is a global player on the academic and health scene, with 14,000 full time students. Its main campus is in South Kensington, and the College had been seeking a suitable site for expansion for some time, before acquiring the Woodlands site in 2009.
The College is an independent corporation established as a university in 2007.
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust was created on October 1, 2007 by merging St Mary’s NHS Trust and Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust and integrating with the faculty of medicine at Imperial College. Now one of the largest NHS trusts in the country, the Trust has come together with the College to establish one of the UK’s first academic health science centres (AHSCs).
The proximity of the Woodlands site to Hammersmith Hospital was one of the reasons why the College was keen to purchase the Woodlands site. A School of Public Health is one of the main academic buildings due to be included in Phase 2 of the Woodlands development.
St Helens Residents Association has been assured by the College that the Woodlands development is a project of the College only, with no financial links to the NHS Trust. This is reassuring, given that the NHS Trust is currently running a deficit of £100m. Income from the commercial part of the Woodlands development will not be going to fill this financial black hole.
The governance arrangements for Imperial College are explained on their website. The governing and executive body of the College is the Council, which is responsible for the finance, property, investments and general business of the College, and for setting its general strategic direction.
We have been assured by Imperial’s senior management that the members of the College Council have been kept fully briefed on plans for the Imperial West development, and on local opposition to the proposals. The Association has twice written directly to all Council members, seetting out our concerns. We have also met with Jeremy Newsum, who chairs the ‘Syndicate’ overseeing the Imperial West development. Membership of the College Council can be found here on its website.
Minutes of College Council meetings are published at this link and are available to the public.
These minutes contain information on the early stages of the Imperial West proposals. We have used this material in our pages on the financing of the development.
Minutes are published well after meetings are held, as they have to be approved at the subsequent meeting. Hence there are delays of several months before they appear.
One of our concerns is that Imperial has promoted this development as a ‘second campus’ to their present main site in South Kensington. The more we have learnt about the scheme, the less it appears as a ‘second campus’. The proposed School of Public Health is the only building that can genuinely claim to be for ‘academic’ purposes. The four blocks of postgraduate housing were approved in 2010 on the basis that they were ‘designated’ for Imperial students. In reality, the College has signed an agreement with LBHF that makes them available to any postgrad from any educational establishment across London.
The College has already sold off this part of the site on a 150 year lease and the student accommodation is being marketed by GradPad with no reference to Imperial College.