By James Martland
As this term gets underway, both freshers and returning students are likely to be arriving excited to view the redevelopment at the Maiden Castle sports park. The first phase of the project, which started in June, is expected to be completed this month, and means that both Durham students and members of the local community can look forward to using improved sports facilities.
Costing around £35 million, the aims of the development are twofold. Firstly, Durham desires to continue competing at the highest level of university sport, and therefore better and more up to date facilities are required in order to achieve this.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, however, the University wants to increase participation in sport, not only from its students, but also from outside, with 2,000 staff and 15 different groups from the local community currently using the facilities at Maiden Castle. The University has set itself a goal of increasing student participation in sport from 75 to 80 percent.
Quentin Sloper, Director of Experience Durham and ‘Operational Lead’ for the project, has split the redevelopment into two different parts. Only the first is set to be completed this month. This first phase has included adding an extra, state of the art rubber crumb (3G) pitch, which will now sit alongside the two previously built.
The 3G pitch has been built inside the existing running track at Maiden Castle. On top of this, the hockey pitches have been upgraded, with two new water-based pitches added, and the car park has been improved.
The start date for phase two is unclear, but a planning application has been submitted by the University. This phase also includes some exciting developments which are sure to improve sport at Durham. A new cricket facility will be built – an important move, considering that indoor cricket games have always been played in Durham School and other buildings not owned by the university. An indoor sports hall, indoor tennis facilities, a squash court and a new fitness suite are also part of the plans for phase two. These changes will require the existing building at Maiden Castle to be expanded.
The new facilities will also include new sports laboratories, which will be used to facilitate the Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity degree program.
To find out more, visit: www.dur. ac.uk/estates-developments
Photograph: Durham University