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Campus development plan

Illustration of a building from the campus development plan

The Campus Development Plan (CDP) is a strategic plan being developed to structure how the Plymouth Marjon University Campus will evolve over the next 10-15 years.

This plan is being developed by a multi disciplinary team working with Marjon estates, governors, senior management, staff and students.


The Campus Development Plan is being developed with Marjon’s core values of Ambition, Curiosity, Independence and Humanity, as well as the existing growth plan and strategic documents.

The main guiding group for the CDP is the Working Group, comprised of a cross section of University staff and student representatives including:

  • Senior Management Team
  • Academic Team
  • Estates Team
  • Student Representatives

Beyond the main working group, the CDP team has been undertaking engagement exercises with a cross section of student, staff and stakeholder groups. All feedback is being considered, and we encourage you to give your thoughts via our survey.

This is an ongoing process that began in October 2019 and will conclude in July 2020. Throughout the academic year you may see various public engagement exercises. These exercises are with staff and students to find out more about how Marjon operates. Any building or landscape specific projects would take place in the years following the CDP exercise.

Researching the opportunities

The Campus Development Plan Team has undertaken extensive research of Marjon’s campus and operations. This has highlighted a number of opportunities for the plan: 

  • Marjon has a rich history originating from the colleges of St Mark and St John which is valuable to demonstrate.
  • Movement around Marjon prioritises the cars - pedestrians and cyclists should receive more priority.
  • It is easy to get lost around campus despite the small size – walking routes could be improved.
  • Marjon has a significant amount of green space and deer on campus, but relatively low biodiversity - diversity of species could be improved to make green spaces more accessible.
  • Marjon has developed in parts of many years leading to a mix of spaces, buildings, and materials - the campus could be given more unity and made more Marjon overall.
  • Some parts of campus feel detached from others, despite close proximity - connections can be improved.
  • Marjon sits in a prime location within Derriford with the hospital, science park and the currently derelict airport adjacent. Relationships with these neighbours bring their own opportunities.

Consulting our community

The Campus Development Plan Team has undertaken a number of engagement exercises to support the research done. This is ongoing, and has included the following so far:

  • Academic and professional interviews and presentations
  • Student interviews and meetings
  • Working Group meetings
  • Senior Management Team meetings
  • Governors meetings

These engagement exercises have highlighted a number of areas to reinforce, and issues that present opportunities with the Campus Development Plan:

  • The Marjon experience is a key part of the unique Marjon life: the sense of community, size, closeness, greenery, student life on campus, accommodation and class sizes.
  • There are numerous challenges to overcome in improving Marjon’s transport infrastructure, but there are quick wins that can be made ranging from more lockers, to individual showers.
  • Students generally think highly of the quality of teaching at Marjon, but some note issues around comfort in learning spaces ranging from being too hot or too cold, to feeling drowsy due to insufficient ventilation.
  • Students and staff generally feel strongly about the state of the climate, but are looking for guidance, leadership and schemes to get involved in.

Eight key strategies

In response to the research and engagement, the Campus Development Plan is currently developing around 8 key strategies. These strategies are:

  1. Campus Hubs
  2. Teaching and Workspace
  3. Site Strategy
  4. Marjon Identity and Character
  5. Marjon as the Derriford Hub
  6. Transport Strategy
  7. Sustainable and Net Zero Strategy
  8. Residential Strategy

Campus hubs

The hub and general arrangement strategy outlines the reorganised and consolidated layout for the Marjon estate. This aims to group functions where possible so they can be better supported, while creating networks of socials spaces and neighbourhoods for academic and professional communities. The Marjon campus has the provision for the following: 

  • Library and Information Hub
  • Teacher Education Hub
  • Arts and Humanities Hub
  • Sports Hub
  • Health and Wellbeing Hub
  • Social Hub
  • Academic/Professional/Student/Senior Management Neighbourhood 
  • Laboratories

This arrangement of space is backed up by a space model for the campus in combination with the teaching and workspace strategy. This facilitates growth of student numbers in line with Marjon growth plans.

The hub and general arrangement strategy aims to not only consolidate and organise the existing facilities, but also improve the provision for students and staff with changes ranging from:

  • Flexible formal shared learning spaces.
  • Increased and improved informal shared and individual learning spaces.
  • Specialist provisions for courses.
  • Workplace environments promoting a sense of community and recognising the different working needs and styles of all staff.

Illustration of workspaces from the campus development plan

Teaching and working spaces

Plymouth Marjon University delivers some of the best teaching in the country. A key part of the Campus Development Plan is supporting this and developing spaces to deliver for future teaching needs. This means looking at supporting the growing role of IT in the teaching environment.

Addressing the format and types of teaching space to support greater flexibility will help to improve utilisation of space, which will allow Marjon to support significantly increased student numbers within the existing estate.

The current work settings in Marjon are of varied quality; some are well utilised, while others are detached. Part of the teaching and workspace strategy is to improve the quality, consolidate and make workspaces more efficient.

The ambition is to create well provisioned neighbourhoods of academics and professionals, which cater to all working styles and create a sense of community. A key part of the developing workplace strategy is recognising that there is no ‘one model suits all’ solution to work settings.

Hand drawn campus plan

Site strategies

Taking inspiration from views of Dartmoor and the Plymouth Sound, the campus has been re-imagined as green in every sense of the word. Wildflower meadows buzzing with bees and butterflies have replaced vast swathes of amenity turf. Areas of semi-wild woodland have grown into campus, creating new habitats and woodland where students can find peace and respite.

Paths and seating areas around the balancing ponds provide spots for nature a running route around campus. A new route hierarchy puts pedestrians first and cars are pushed to the outer edges. Soft rain gardens slow and recycle rainwater runoff, while creating a green frame for the main campus core. Terraced rain gardens, lawns and stepped seating leading down from the central quad buildings make the most of the views and provide somewhere to watch the action on the pitches.

In the central quad garden planting enriches biodiversity, offering a more aesthetic look against the original architecture. Semi-enclosed social and outdoor learning spaces tie into key buildings, cafes and routes, helping to encourage social connection. Social hubs provide a focus within the accommodation blocks, with BBQs, seating and tables to allow for communal outdoor eating. A hillside amphitheatre, Marjon’s answer to the Minack Theatre, Penzance, provides an outdoor performance and rehearsal space. Two yoga lawns offer space to relax and recharge.

Character and identity

The Campus Development Plan aims to set out guidance and design of future projects which should move Marjon to having more consistent architectural and landscape branding. The key themes are: 

  • Built of the place: Materials and species should be locally sourced as much as possible.
  • Designed for clarity and identity: The inside, outside and surrounding landscape of the Marjon estate should have consistency and be unmistakably Marjon, while having unique variation to navigating around campus.
  • Designed to sustain good health and wellbeing: Design materials should be specified that are non-toxic, healthy and natural. People should have access to natural daylight, constant fresh air and a connection to nature.
  • Designed for low maintenance and high durability: Materials should be be durable and of low maintenance.
  • Maintaining low emissions and circular economy: In keeping with sustainable aspirations, materials life cycle emissions should be considered, including the reduction of waste.

Illustration of Marjon at the centre of a new Derriford hub

The Derriford hub

The Marjon campus is well positioned to become a key hub of north Plymouth, with surrounding development set to enhance this position. The campus already has a number of the facilities to support this. The four key focus areas to establish Marjon as the hub of north Plymouth:

  • Inviting neighbours onto the Marjon campus has a number of benefits, from adding life and vibrancy to the setting, through to encouraging increased used of facilities such as sports pitches, facilities and the gym.
  • Marjon has a strong arts culture which could and should be better shared with those surrounding. Additionally, enhanced facilities could bring travelling exhibitions and productions to site.
  • The option for a Health and Wellbeing Hub in combination with staff can strengthen ties with Derriford hospital, develop Allied Health and support more partnership space. Marjon should be seen as the first stop for some wellbeing services.
  • Marjon can better link into the Plymouth Science Park, potential future enterprise development in the northern regions of Plymouth.


Transport is a key focus area for Marjon. Currently the attitude to commuting to Marjon is that the car is the best way. This leads to a heavily car dominated campus, which limits the capacity of the landscape and does little to promote health and wellbeing of staff and students. 

The long term transport objective of the Campus Development Plan is to create a culture shift from single commuter car use to more varied and sustainable methods of transport. This frees up valuable landscape space for other uses and helps to improve health and wellbeing. Creating this culture shift cannot be done by simply sanctioning car use, other better options have to be available and work reliably. This is a carrot and stick approach, both in the short term and the long term:

  • Encourage use of park and ride more.
  • Frequent buses from further park and ride and student centres.
  • Access to lockers on campus for students.
  • Encourage and support cycling/walking, this will also include more locker space and individual showers.

Sustainability and net zero emissions

The Campus Development Plan aims to make Plymouth Marjon University campus one of the most sustainable campuses in the country. Sustainability is a core objective of the CDP and manifests in a number of ways.

One way is aiming to make the campus Net Zero Emissions and significantly reduce this in all other categories. Other sustainability objectives cover a broader definition of sustainability including:

  • Social Sustainability
  • Economic Sustainability
  • Environmental Sustainability

Student and staff engagement has highlighted that students have the desire to be more sustainable and are looking to Marjon for leadership, to guide the way, provide further education and make the major moves they cannot make.

For resident students

Marjon’s current residential offer is popular with students, however the quality, provision and state of repair is not excellent. Significant work is needed to maintain certain areas, with reasonable maintenance required elsewhere.

The CDP has identified the significance of student residential on site, and aims to see Marjon’s residential offer developed to be a positive asset of the campus in terms of financial viability, attracting students, and external use. 

The number of students currently living on campus and the community that creates is seen as a significant part of the ‘Marjon Experience’. The big part of the university’s selling point in attracting new students is the community feel. Engagement has shown that students like living on campus, but also consider the lack of improvements in living facilities. The poor quality of residences and lack of en-suite bathrooms is also seen as a detractor for new students considering Marjon.

Illustration of Marjon Arts Centre from the campus development plan

Marjon Arts Centre

An artist's sketch of an enhanced arts cafe spilling out into the current car park situated next to Marjon Arts. This is an example of how Marjon's centralised car parking area could be altered to benefit time spent in the heart of the university's campus.

Feedback welcome

Feedback on the ideas being developed are welcomed by the development team. All feedback is being considered, and we encourage you to give your thoughts via the survey.