Durham University submits plans for City development

Its construction is predicted to stimulate the city economy and create and sustain more than 200 jobs across a regionwide industry supply chain.

The project is not an expansion of the University but aims to bring together activities which are currently spread across the City in a more coherent fashion and into fit-for-purpose buildings.

The ambitious plans follow the University’s vision to deliver world-class facilities for research, education, administration and community and cultural engagement which will enhance Durham’s standing as a leading international university and in turn attract high-performing staff and students and contribute to the overall City environment and opportunities.

The plans, from award-winning north-east-based architects _Space and PHP, appointed following a competitive international tender process, have been developed and refined extensively over the last 18 months following lengthy consultation with a range of stakeholders.

This included a series of discussions with local residents’ groups and a two-day public event in April where interested parties could see how the project vision was evolving, meet the project team and submit feedback.

The University’s project leaders have also maintained dialogue with the County Council, Durham City Vision, the Chamber of Commerce, English Heritage and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) to inform the final designs.

Should planning permission be granted, the development would see a new library extension, a new law school bringing together staff currently on two different sites, and a student services building which brings into one building many student facing services currently dotted around the City in unsuitable accommodation.

Crucially, a new building on this site – which currently features some vacant residential properties, an electricity sub station and is dominated by the rear of the University’s chemistry buildings – would create space for designated public exhibition space in Palace Green Library to accompany the development of a new visitor information centre for the World Heritage Site which has been planned by the University and Durham City Vision at University property at 7 Owengate.

It will also enable the University to vacate Old Shire Hall and properties along Old Elvet, allowing these listed buildings to be refurbished for alternative use to benefit the city economy.

The plans are also linked to complementary developments to enhance the environment of the Science Site which will include extensive landscaping and greening of the area and the implementation of a Green Travel Plan which the University is developing in partnership with the County Council to tackle traffic and parking issues in the city.

Durham University Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Higgins said: “Along with our students, I and many other members of University staff are proud residents of the city and we are committed to ensuring that Durham continues to be a great place to live, to visit and to study.

“After much consideration we have opted to develop this site and are proposing a high-quality and environmentally-friendly development programme which will continue our tradition of enhancing Durham’s built environment with interesting buildings of architectural merit.

“The plans we have submitted have undergone substantial changes in response to the consultations and if planning permission is granted it will support the University’s commitment to enhancing the wider city environment to benefit scholars, residents and visitors alike.”

Have your say on this story using the comment section below.