Estates News and Service Disruptions
Following Peter Robinson's retirement, Trevor Armour has taken on the role of Acting Director of Estates while some reorganization takes place to separate Estates and Buildings into two distinct and independent Departments 'Estates Development' and 'Facilities Management'. Each will have a University-wide remit. Can I, on everyone's behalf, thank Trevor and his colleagues for the tremendous efforts over the summer to bring in a number of complex and distinct building projects.
Mount Oswald. Banks Developments has placed outline proposals for a development for the Mt Oswald site in the public domain. This includes a proposal for up to 1000 student rooms and references discussions with the University. Some people have inferred that the University has already lent its support to a particular scheme. We have not. We have indeed been in initial discussions with Banks and said that we will work with them and Durham County Council through a master planning process to evaluate the feasibility of the development of student accommodation on the Mt Oswald site as long as (a) this were built as a partnership with the University and the accommodation was of an appropriate specification linked to our College system; (b) this site was identified as appropriate for new College accommodation as we develop a comprehensive accommodation strategy. There are a number of potential sites, including replacement/extension of existing College builds, which need to be considered for suitability and value for money as we develop a student accommodation strategy, a sub-strategy to the overarching University Estates strategy a draft of which is being considered by Senate today as part of a broad consultation. Until a comprehensive student accommodation strategy has been developed and approved, which is likely to take a number of months, there cannot and will not be any commitment to any new residential development, including Mt Oswald.
A considerable amount of building work has been carried out over the summer:
Lecture Theatres. The annual programme of teaching room improvements has seen the refurbishment and upgrading of audio visual equipment in the Arthur Holmes and Scarborough Lecture Theatres as well as three teaching laboratories in Physics.
· College Refurbishments. The programme of major refurbishment to residential accommodation has been completed at Parsons Field Court for St Cuthbert's Society. In University College conservation works to the Great Hall and other public areas are completed (it looks stunning), including new floors and refitting of the kitchen and servery. Refurbishment of bedrooms and provision of additional en suite accommodation is on schedule for completion in early 2012.
· A new gym and extended JCR at Collingwood is on schedule for completion in October, funded primarily by alumni and the JCR. Work to extend the Library and JCR at Grey, part of the jubilee project, are well underway for completion in February 2012. A new outside sports area at Butler/Ustinov will be completed in November.
· Maiden Castle. The extension and refurbishment of the Ian Graham Sports Centre at Maiden Castle, which was delayed earlier in the year, is now expected to be completed by the end of October. The enhanced facility includes, in addition to a larger sports hall, a new reception area and café, refurbished changing rooms, offices for coaching staff, a new fencing salle and fitness area, and a powered rowing tank one of only three in the UK.
· Palace Green Library. Phase 2 of the refurbishment will see the creation of further public exhibition space complementary to the Wolfson Gallery which was opened earlier this year is well underway, and reopening of the Cosin's Library, scheduled for completion by January 2012.
· Bill Bryson Library. The Level 2 refurbishment has been completed on time for the start of term, including alterations and improvements to the entrance, reception desk and book issue areas. The area has been designed to enhance the links to the large east wing extension, part of the Gateway programme, which is scheduled for completion in 2012.
· Queen's. Work to build a 4th wing of the Wolfson Research Institute has started and foundations and ground works are complete. The new build, funded primarily by the NHS, will house the Northern Deanery GP training scheme and will enable expansion of the Durham Business School and is scheduled for completion in September 2012.
Work to expand and remodel the Library to provide more study space, put in place a well-equipped postgraduate room, and expand the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre has been completed for the start of term. Café Aroma has been expanded and relocated from the library area to the ground floor of Ebsworth to make it more accessible for all.
· Mountjoy 1, 2 and 3 (now called Hawthorn, Holly and Maple). Major alterations and refurbishments have been completed to create high quality open-plan office spaces for professional support services who have relocated from Old Shire Hall, and Estates and Buildings who have relocated from Green Lane.
· Infrastructure projects. Many projects, generally related to energy efficiency, have been completed over the summer: these include completing the decentralisation of the district heating system serving the Bailey; new boilers in Geography and Chemistry; a new combined heat and power unit in Chemistry which will be commissioned for this winter (and hopefully avoid the problems of last winter); installation of voltage optimisers in Chemistry, Grey College, Collingwood and St Aidan's and the Business School; reinforcement of the high voltage electrical infrastructure serving the science site.
· Car parks. The 'Engineering' and Elvet Hill car parks have been resurfaced, creating more parking spaces. New energy efficient lighting is expected to be fully installed in the next week or so.
· Library, Law School and Palatine Centre. This major development remains on track for occupancy ready for the 2012 academic year. The environmental enhancements to the science site are expected to be completed in the next two weeks, with the exception of some of the planned public art and the areas immediately surrounding the new buildings.