DURHAM’S LOCAL ECONOMY is set for a boost after a government announcement to bring forward planned funding for the new Student Gateway development.
The £3 million grant will support the £48 million project to develop a new Gateway building in the Science Site on Stockton Road.
The project is due to begin construction in July 2010, with completion scheduled for summer 2011. Once finished, the law department will move there from North Bailey along with the law collection currently housed in the Palace Green library. The creation of space within Palace Green will enable the library to open its rare and landmark collections to the wider public, whilst simultaneously improving facilities for students and staff.
The funds, put forward by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), have been earmarked to begin enabling work on the development and will initially create 50 jobs, rising to 200 when actual construction of the site begins.
John Denham, Secretary of State for Higher Education, explained that the grant is part of a wider Government initiative to bring forward funding for important public sector projects. The current economic down turn has badly affected the construction industry, and Mr. Denham highlighted the positive impact the funding will have on Durham’s local economy: “the project will secure local jobs for those in vital building and construction work.”
This was further welcomed by those involved in the Gateway project, including Professor Chris Higgins, Vice Chancellor of the university. “The university is at the heart of Durham and the Gateway project is a significant development for the future prosperity of the city as a whole. The effect of this advanced funding will be immediate, and will help sustain employment in the city and surrounding areas that have been affected by the current financial situation.” The university has already stated that these building contracts will be kept within the local area, thus stimulating the local job market.
Final commencement is of course subject to planning permission, and local residents will have their voices heard on the matter for a third time during mid to late April this year.
The new World Heritage Site Visitor Centre is another branch of the Gateway project, to be developed in conjunction with Durham City Vision. The new centre will build on Durham’s already-established tourist industry, and further general public interest in the cathedral and other attractions in the city.
Harvey Dowdy, Director of Durham City Vision, expressed his delight at the plans: “…we have one of Europe’s finest buildings and together we’ll provide a far greater experience for the thousands of people who visit it.”