Biel/Bienne campus: canton seeking to speed up the process
15.11.2021 In September 2021, the Supreme Court decided against the city of Biel in the compulsory purchase proceedings between the city of Biel and a key property owner. The canton of Bern’s Department of Public Works and Transport (BVD) announced today that the verdict could delay the opening of the Biel/Bienne campus until 2029. Despite the new development, the canton of Bern is doing everything in its power to speed up the realisation of the campus. Optimisation of the project in the meantime has been successful.
On 7 September 2021, the Supreme Court decided against the city of Biel as the party issuing the building permit. This has resulted in what the canton publicly described in May 2020 and in February 2021 as the worst case scenario. It means that, instead of Biel, the canton must now lead the compulsory purchase proceedings against a private landowner. As is known, this may delay the start of construction at the Biel/Bienne campus site until 2026 and the campus opening until 2029.
Compulsory purchase proceedings can drag on for years. However, the canton is not keen to wait that long. Before the Supreme Court’s decision, the Department of Public Works and Transport (BVD) had already examined options for bringing forward the start of construction work despite the new situation. As a result, the procurement of construction services is being separated from the legal proceedings. This means that instead of waiting patiently for the compulsory purchase proceedings and the pending planning permission proceedings to be concluded with legal effect, the canton will launch the crucial tendering process to select a turnkey contractor at the beginning of 2022.
Impact on Bern University of Applied Sciences
Along with the canton of Bern’s Office for Land and Buildings (AGG), BFH is committed to ensuring that the construction project goes ahead as quickly as possible.
The delay does not jeopardise the university’s operations. It will not diminish the high quality of teaching and research. However, it may mean that the desired synergies in day-to-day operations and impetus for interdisciplinary collaboration are hampered or will only be achievable at a later date. Additionally, facilities at the existing locations need to be renovated.
Public planning application for the Bern campus 2022
As a result of experience with the Biel/Bienne campus, the Bern campus construction project has been scrutinised intensely over the past 18 months. This resulted in optimisations to the tune of around CHF 20 million. The planning application will be submitted in the first half of 2022. Because it intersects with various other projects, the timing of the construction project will also depend on neighbouring projects being carried out by the city of Bern and SBB. If everything goes smoothly, the Bern campus could become operational in 2027 rather than in 2026 as previously planned. This delay is the result of the risk reassessment that was initiated in the wake of the Biel/Bienne campus construction project.