IF councillors approve plans next week to allow homes to be built on land off Bromyard Road in Worcester, it will draw the curtain on a more than decade-long ambition by the University of Worcester to build a major £100 million science and enterprise hub which could have created thousands of jobs.

Worcester City Council’s planning committee meets next Thursday to discuss the University of Worcester's latest plans for Grove Farm which could see more homes built on land which seemed destined to become a major business hub in what would have been a huge boost for the city.

The university bought the 27-acre Grove Farm site from supermarket giant Tesco in 2009 with the goal of transforming it into the 2,000-job creating hub but the plans never came to fruition after failing to attract enough interest from business partners.

The university has since spent millions on other major plans such as the Hive and University Arena in Hylton Road - and the redevelopment of the former County Furnishings building into Castle Street - before putting the plans at University Park on hold.

The land was included in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) for a university campus as well as a business, science, health and enterprise park.

In 2015, after investing multi-millions into other huge developments like The Hive and glitzy University Arena, bosses behind the grand project declared a 'pause' on the scheme - and revealed it could be years before it ever realises those lofty ambitions.

The university said in 2009 it could take a decade to revamp the land before admitting six years later it was no longer putting a timescale on the plans at all as it was prioritising the development of the Orchard House complex, which it brought from Worcester City Council in a deal worth around £2.6 million, and transforming the County Furnishings site off Castle Street.

In 2017, university bosses admitted they were abandoning the huge project because it had not attracted enough interest from investors.


1990s/early 2000 - Three planning inquiries support the preference to leave Grove Farm, off Bromyard Road, as 'open land'

January 2003 - Public inquiry into Worcester City Council’s local plan, including the future of Grove Farm, begins

May 2004 - Part of the site is included in plans to relocate the then-Christopher Whitehead High School to the neighbouring Earl’s Court Farm

May 2005 - Proposals to turn Grove Farm into a business park and create thousands of jobs emerge

March 2006 - After a failed bid to relocate Christopher Whitehead Language College, Spen Hill Developers - a subsidiary of Tesco - looks at building office blocks, a supermarket and car parking on the site

June 2006 - Worcestershire County Council considers proposals to build a park-and-ride on the land

May 2007 - Worcester City Council approves Spen Hill Developers’ outline planning application to develop an office and general industrial park, but nothing ever happens

March 2009 - The university announces it has bought the site for an undisclosed fee from Tesco and unveils its own vision for the site

March 2012 - Outline planning permission for the University Park, creating 2,000 jobs, gets the go-ahead

March 2013 - The city council say it is happy with it being a 'mixed use' development, and a detailed planning application for the Sanctuary Housing accommodation is voted through some months later

April 2015 - After acquiring Orchard House and the old County Furnishings site, the university announces a 'pause' on University Park

February 2017 - Vice-chancellor Professor David Green confirms the scheme has been scrapped, saying investors were reluctant to come forward

April 2020 - University puts forward planning application for up to 120 homes on the site