Case Study

Edge Hill Campus

Sector: Education

Client: Edge Hill University

Location: Ormskirk Campus

Our Client

As a former Times Higher Education Awards winner, Edge Hill University, was founded in 1885 as a teacher training college and has since diversified to include facilities comprising medicine, art, science, media and law.

Its state-of-the-art, 160-acre campus, based in Ormskirk, West Lancashire, nestles between Preston and Liverpool.  Among its distinctive features, Edge Hill boasts the UK’s longest standing university chancellor and will start to train doctors in a new medical school facility from 2020.

The University’s Director of Capital Development, David Oldham, explains how their requirements as a university stand them apart:


“Because of the need to get buildings ready for student intake, we build at a much quicker rate than other organisations. For instance, we aim to build within a year so we must take the quickest route we can. The programme for our Catalyst Building was 40 weeks.  The total project timeframe was just 70 weeks.”

The Project

Smith & Love Director, Graham Love, has worked with Edge Hill University for 15 years, over which time he’s seen their purpose-built campus double in size developing into the Green Belt. In addition to working on planning, he’s worked together with Edge Hill on overcoming challenges in the local area with the benefits to the local economy firmly recognised. 

Since co-founding Smith & Love in 2015, Graham has continued his long-term relationship with the University, assisting it with its plans to grow the campus and develop its facilities. This work included a series of planning applications from its estate masterplan, which the University strategically works through as student numbers grow in relation to academic and funding requirements.

For Edge Hill, the priorities for the last few years have been delivering on-campus, award winning (National Student Housing Awards best University Halls 2018) high-quality student accommodation in four phases, and a new library – their most recent capital project. 

This £27 million project, known Catalyst Building was opened by Princess Anne at the start of 2019 and was shortlisted for Project of the Year (Universities and Colleges) at the Education Estates Awards 2019. The planning work for this project featured an innovative, hybrid application that supported the principles of the whole development.


“The Catalyst Building is brilliant and has already helped me massively with assignments. I enjoy going in and love being in the calm environment.”

Student, Edge Hill University Student Survey

Our Approach

Smith & Love helped accelerate this time sensitive and cost-conscious project, the same way we always do, by starting with the end in mind.  Securing planning permission was critical to the success of the project so we had to maximise the prospect of obtaining permission first time.

On large capital projects, there can be any number of challenges, unforeseen issues and design amendments that require changes to be made.  In the case of Edge Hill, these were particularly time sensitive and so we worked hard post-permission on various amendments to ensure the project remained on track.

“When we submit a planning application, particularly of this scale and delivery programme, we know we have the best chance of obtaining planning permission from the outset as we aim to de-risk the process.  Fully understanding our client’s vision and need to deliver on time is a critical component in how we work.  We’ve developed long lasting relationships with Edge Hill and the consultant team and am particularly proud to see the way in which the campus has grown and developed over the years.”

Graham Love, Director, Smith & Love

“I see Smith & Love as one of the region’s leading planning consultancies in terms of their expertise and effectiveness. Collaboration and communication are very important to us and working in this way, they are the most likely to achieve planning than anyone I’ve worked with. Their knowledge and experience with the planning process and their ability to navigate a successful route to a planning consent is what got it across the line.”

David Oldham, Director of Capital Development, Edge Hill University