By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter
The University of Nottingham has lodged plans to transform a number of buildings once used by Government tax staff.
His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) moved out of its former offices in Castle Meadow Road and into its new Unity Square tower block after construction finished in 2021.
HMRC first took on the Castle Meadow site after it was built in the 1990s, at a time when the department was called Inland Revenue.
It had expanded its operations out of London by moving 2,000 jobs to the city.
The Castle Meadow offices were later put up for sale for £36m upon HMRC’s departure.
They were then bought by the University of Nottingham.
Planning documents submitted to Nottingham City Council reveal change of use purposes for the Barkley, Ferrers and Fitzroy House blocks, referred to as buildings A, B and C.
The university’s masterplan shows the buildings will be used as a new city centre location for Nottingham University Business School and as a home for ‘Digital Nottingham’, a digital and data-driven research and innovation hub.
The campus will offer space to final year and postgraduate students as well as major employers “to create an ecosystem of employers and students to work and learn together”.
The documents say: “The change of use secures the future flexibility of the site to accommodate the short, medium and long-term requirements of the university as the implementation of the masterplan ensues.
“More specifically, buildings A, B and C relate to the University’s Business School and the delivery of Digital Nottingham in both interim and long term across the buildings.
“The amenity building is to initially house ancillary office space for the university, with the view to turn this into a student focused space in the long term.”
The buildings were designed by Sir Michael Hopkins and the project was the first in Britain to receive a maximum BREEAM score, an internationally-recognised award noting a building’s sustainability and quality.
Sir Michael won the contract in a competition to find a suitable architect in 1992.
The competition came about after Nottingham Civic Society, English Heritage and the Royal Fine Arts Commission successfully prevented the first planned scheme for a new Inland Revenue HQ from going ahead back in the late 1980s, due to concerns over poor design and the impact on Nottingham Castle.
After news the building was to be re-purposed Nottingham Civic Society has sought to get the building Grade-II listed due to its architectural merit and unique features.
As it stands the building is not protected.
The planing documents add: “Overall, the change of use from office space to university space is considered to be entirely appropriate.
“The use is supported in principle by both policy and through informal pre-application discussions with Nottingham City Council.
“Solely as a change of use, with no external alterations proposed, it has been assessed that there would be no undue impact on highways matters or flood risk as a result of the proposal.
“The scheme brings significant social and economic benefits to the city through the regeneration of a sustainable city centre site, facilitated by a world class university as part of their long-term vision for their new campus.”