Pantycelyn Project Board meets for the first time



16 September 2015

The Pantycelyn Project Board met for the first time on Friday 11 September to begin the work of developing a design brief for the provision of Welsh medium accommodation and social space for students at Aberystwyth University.

The Board has been established following a decision of the University Council in June to approve a resolution that underlined the University's commitment to the Welsh language and Welsh culture and to providing designated Welsh medium accommodation.

The resolution also noted the University’s intention to reopen Pantycelyn within 4 years to provide fit-for-the-future Welsh Medium Accommodation and social spaces that will be suitable for the needs of future students.

The Project Board is chaired by Gwerfyl Pierce Jones, Pro-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, and at its first meeting the Terms of Reference and membership of the Board were approved.

Gwerfyl Pierce Jones said: “This is a vital step towards realising the University's intention to reopen Pantycelyn and the Board is fully committed to the task it has been set. Crucially, the Board's membership includes a cross-section of individuals who will represent the interests of students and staff at the University, and brings together a broad range of experience and expertise to enable us to develop a plan that will give new life to Pantycelyn as a focal point for Welsh medium activities at Aberystwyth University. In particular, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Elin Jones AM and Roger Banner, the two independent members of the Board. Their contributions will be indispensable.”

Hanna Merrigan, President of UMCA – the Aberystwyth Welsh Students' Union said: “Following the first meeting of the Pantycelyn Project Board, I am confident that the Board's membership is strong and the terms of reference comprehensive. The discussions were constructive and I emphasize that the students will be at the centre of the discussions over the coming months. I represent the student voice on the Project Board, and it is encouraging to see that the University welcomes our input. I want to emphasize that the process this year is clearer and more transparent and I hope that members of the Board will be unanimous about the nature of Pantycelyn and what it will provide in future. The steps being taken prove that the University is serious about Pantycelyn this time. I also welcome the appointment of Elin Jones AM to the Board and I'm sure that the students will also welcome her, given her commitment and leading role in the campaign to save Pantycelyn.”

The final report of the Project Board Pantycelyn will be completed by end of April 2016 and considered by the University Council in June.

While the Board's work is ongoing, Pantycelyn will remain a centre for Welsh language activities.

The University’s Centre for Welsh Language Services will relocate to new offices at Pantycelyn for the start of the new academic year, and classes for Welsh learners will also be held there.

In addition, the office of UMCA (Aberystwyth Welsh Students' Union) will continue in Pantycelyn, whilst the buildings communal spaces, will be available for use by UMCA and its members.

Terms of reference

In line with the resolution approved by Council on 22 June, the following have been identified as the Project Board’s primary responsibilities:

1. Have oversight of and advise on the development of a design brief for excellent Welsh medium accommodation and social spaces which are good for 40 years, to be presented to the Council once endorsed by the Project Board.

2. Ensure that UMCA and the student body, as well as staff and the community are fully consulted in the development of this design brief.

3. Test how the design brief could be applied to Pantycelyn and the likely costs of doing so, and advise the Council accordingly, taking into consideration: a revised University Estate Strategy; the demand for Welsh-medium accommodation; the structural changes needed in Pantycelyn, listed-building status and the necessary permissions; the priorities of the University; and the provision of necessary funding.

4. To draw on the advice of the Major Projects Advisory Group (MPAG), and to provide regular updates to Council via the Finance and Strategy Committee (FSC).

5. To agree a final report encompassing the proposed design brief and how this design brief could be applied to Pantycelyn by 30 April 2016, so that the report can be considered by FSC and Council during the May / June 2016 cycle of meetings.

Membership of the Board
Members of Aberystwyth University Council
Gwerfyl Pierce Jones (Chair), Pro-Chancellor
Janet Davies

Independent Members
Roger Banner
Elin Jones AM

Members of the University’s Executive
Rebecca Davies, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Chief Operating Officer)
Dr Rhodri Llwyd Morgan, Pro Vice-Chancellor

Student Representatives
Hanna Merrigan, Undeb Myfyrwyr Cymraeg Aberystwyth President
Lewis Donnelly, Aberystwyth University Students Union President

Members of University Staff
Dr Elin Royles, Chair of the AU Branch of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol
Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones
Dr Huw Lewis