UWE will leave Glenside campus in Fishponds

THE University of the West of England is set to leave its Glenside campus in Fishponds.

Facilities for the 6,000 health and social care students who currently study and train at the site of the former Glenside Hospital will be relocated to the university’s main Frenchay campus over the next three years.

UWE Bristol says the move will give it the chance to create a purpose-built new facility without the restrictions of the current 19th century buildings, and builds on its vision to create an “Integrated Care Academy” with partner organisations.

The future of the Grade II-listed former hospital buildings and grounds, once the School of Health and Social Wellbeing has moved out, has yet to be decided.

UWE Bristol owns the site, which has about 300 staff, but says “no decisions have been taken” over its disposal, with the university “assessing potential options” for the future.

At present 275 students live on the site in university accommodation.

A UWE Bristol spokesperson told the Voice: “The university strives to provide the best facilities to train a modern healthcare workforce.

“To support this, the university is looking to consolidate and enhance our health and wellbeing offer by relocating the School of Health and Social Wellbeing from our Glenside campus to Frenchay campus.

“This will provide the opportunity to design a facility that brings to life the vision for the future success of the School, and build on our outstanding learning and teaching, practice-led research and partnerships across the region and beyond.

“Whilst Glenside is home to excellent sector-leading facilities, it is limited to the restrictions of a Grade II-listed building, and Frenchay provides greater opportunities in terms of learning, teaching and research space, and collaboration with staff, students, researchers from across the university and facilities based on Frenchay campus. 

“The relocation forms one aspect of the future of health at UWE Bristol.

“The project will look to build on the vision of creating an Integrated Care Academy – an exciting new partnership with our NHS and commercial, charity and independent sector partners across local and regional health and social care systems.

“Design work is ongoing with a view to beginning pre-construction work in late 2024 and completing the building works by September 2026.”

UWE has released a computer-generated image of how it sayas the new faculty building will look. Picture: UWE Bristol

The spokesperson said the university and its partners would continue to use Glenside, including the clinical training facilities and eye clinic owned by UWE, until the relocation is completed.

UWE does not own the Riverside Adolescent Unit, an NHS facility for teenagers with mental health issues at Glenside.

It does own the former hospital chapel, which is now home to the volunteer-run Glenside Hospital Museum.

The spokesperson said the future of the museum was one of the issues to be decided before the relocation takes place.

UWE has been at Glenside since 1996, when it joined with the Avon & Gloucestershire College of Health and Bath & Swindon College of Health Studies to buy it from the NHS, creating its Faculty of Health & Social Care.

The site’s healthcare history dates back to 1861, when the hospital opened as the Bristol Municipal Lunatic Asylum.

Used as a war hospital during the First World War, it returned to treating psychiatric patients and was renamed Glenside Mental Hospital, then Glenside Hospital, until a merger with neighbouring Manor Park Hospital to create Blackberry Hill Hospital in 1993.

By that time wards were already being closed under the ‘Care in the Community’ policy, and Glenside was being converted into the Avon & Gloucestershire College of Health.

The majority of the Blackberry Hill Hospital site has been sold for housing, although Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust still runs two units there.

Main picture: UWE’s Glenside campus is based in the Grade II-listed buildings and grounds of the former Glenside Hospital. Picture: UWE Bristol