THE campus for  the county’s proposed university could be spread across former Herefordshire Council sites.

A groundbreaking motion before full council on Friday steers the council towards talks on transferring existing offices and other estate to the university project.

Karen Usher, university project leader, said she was confident of cross-party support for the motion.

That support reinforced the principle of the council entering into talks with the project over sites and estate that could be transferred - under mutually agreed terms - for campus development or made available at “peppercorn” rent, she said.

The motion is proposed by councillor Andrew Atkinson and is seconded by councillor Nick Nenadich.

In full, the motion reads:
“A Herefordshire University would bring a wide range of benefits to the county including supporting economic growth through the development locally of relevant higher level skills; encouraging younger people to study and work in the county; and contributing to the vibrancy of the county.

This Council welcomes the developing proposals to establish a university in Hereford, and the wide support being generated for the proposals.

This Council requests the Executive to identify the most appropriate way in which the council can assist in securing the future of higher education in the county.”

Coun Atkinson said that Friday’s motion was not intended to be binding at this stage.

“I personally would like to see asset transfers happen to make this project viable and release funding streams. If agreed on Friday then asset transfers can be decided after debate at cabinet when more specific information has been gathered,” said Coun Atkinson.

“Agreement in principal at this stage is what I think we need from Councillors and what the motion calls for,” he said.

Council chief executive Alistair Neill has previously said that the university is “potentially transformational” for the county in lending both his personal support to the project and committing the council to doing “everything that it reasonably can do” in assisting.

In August last year, the Hereford Times revealed plans to provide the county with a university linked to some of the world’s leading academic institutions by 2016.

Some of those institutions, in both the UK and USA are already on board offering advice on the structure, governance and administration of the new university.

Further talks are aimed at establishing grounds for more formal support.

Since the plan went public and number of  volunteers have brought strong academic and organisational backgrounds to the project.

As proposed, the university would specialise in on-line courses with its campus spread across the county.

A task group is already looking into likely campus locations in Hereford, Leominster, Ledbury, and Ross-on-Wye.