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Durham University

Durham University News


Construction begins on £80 million Mount Oswald project

(6 September 2018)

The new John Snow College

Construction has begun on an £80 million project to develop new College and student facilities.

The Mount Oswald project involves construction of a new home for John Snow College and a brand new College, together totalling 1,000 student bed spaces, at the Mount Oswald site, to the south of Durham City.

The new facilities will be self-catering, with a mixture of en-suite and shared bathroom accommodation.

There will also be a Hub building, with an events hall, music practice rooms, a performance practice room, a Yoga/dance studio, a launderette and a faith room, and a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA).

The Hub and MUGA are scheduled to come into use in autumn 2019 and the first students will move into the residential facilities for the academic year 2020/21.

The commencement of work on site for the project was marked with a turf-cutting ceremony on Monday 3 September. 

Outstanding student experience

Owen Adams, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience), said: “Durham University combines world-class research and education with an outstanding wider student experience.

“Our Colleges are a key part of this wider student experience, along with Durham Students’ Union and Experience Durham, and we are excited to be developing both a new home for John Snow College and our first brand new College since Josephine Butler College was established 12 years ago.

“These new facilities will benefit our students and also the local community, as we increasingly share our facilities with our neighbours and increase the proportion of our students living in Collegiate accommodation.”

George Walker, President of Durham Students’ Union, said: “I am very pleased that building work at the Mount Oswald site is now underway and we are confident that following student consultation, the site will provide an excellent home for both John Snow College and the new 17th College for years to come.

“I look forward to working with student leaders and the University to build vibrant collegiate communities at the new Mount Oswald site, ensuring that students have the best possible experience of Durham’s unique college system.”

Having been established at the University’s Queen’s Campus, Stockton-on-Tees in 2001, John Snow College relocated to the Howlands site, in Durham City, for 2018/19, as part of the University’s wider repurposing of Queen’s Campus.

Professor Carolyn Summerbell, Principal of John Snow College, said: “At John Snow College, we are committed to enabling our students to develop in every area of life.

“Moving into purpose-built new facilities at Mount Oswald will allow our community to flourish further still, and we are very pleased to see building work beginning on site. We are very excited to be entering this next chapter in the College’s development.”

Shared benefits

The development will bring a number of benefits to the local community. The events hall and MUGA will be made available for community use. Local suppliers will be used where possible and there will be educational visits and work placement opportunities for local schools and colleges.

University staff, students and members of the public were involved in shaping the proposals, including during planning consultation events in October 2017.

Durham County Council granted planning permission for the development in January 2018.

A strong partnership

The facilities will be built, financed and operated by a consortium including Equitix, a leading UK infrastructure manager and developer, and Campus Living Villages, a global operator and investor in student accommodation.

Equitix will oversee all aspects of the development in a management services capacity, monitoring the construction and operation of the new residences.

Campus Living Villages will deliver the day-to-day management of the facilities, under a contract managed by the University.

Construction will be undertaken by Interserve, the international support services and construction group.

Geoff Jackson, CEO of Equitix, said: “We are delighted to add the Mount Oswald project to our growing portfolio of UK student accommodation. 

“The opportunity to be involved in the development of new colleges in such a historic institution is both extremely rare and exciting and we are confident that Equitix is well positioned to provide both students and the wider community with the top-quality facilities they deserve.”

John Georgakis, Interim UK CEO for Campus Living Villages, said: “We are delighted to be involved in the Mount Oswald project and to become a key operator and developer at Durham University, a prestigious and world-renowned institution.

“We have the experience to deliver the best in student accommodation and look forward to continuing to put this into practice.”

Debbie White, Interserve’s chief executive, said: “We are excited to be breaking the ground to deliver these world class facilities at Durham University. 

“We look forward to furthering our long-term relationship with Durham University during the considerate construction of these market-leading facilities, whilst maximising opportunities for the local community.”

Considerate construction

Interserve is committed to keeping local residents informed of work on site. Public Information Sessions were held prior to construction commencing and neighbours will be updated on progress and upcoming works by regular newsletters and other communications. On social media, progress can be followed with the hashtag #MountOswald.

Local residents with questions can email:

More information

More information on the Mount Oswald project is available via the project web page, which includes a series of Frequently Asked Questions.