By Anna Tatham
Planning proposals for a new £40 million building to house the Mathematical Sciences and Computer Science departments have been approved by Durham County Council.
Work is set to begin at the University campus site at Upper Mountjoy in early November, with the new building ready for use in the academic year 2020/21.
The development comes as part of the University’s Estates Masterplan, which intends to double undergraduate student numbers for both departments by 2026/27, as well as increase postgraduate researchers and academic and support staff.
The University says the £40 million project will provide “state-of-the-art learning, teaching and study spaces”.
Planning permission was granted for the project at a committee meeting on 4th September, following the public consultation event which took place in April of this year.
The building is designed specifically to facilitate greater integration of students and staff, and to further develop ‘synergies’ between Mathematical Sciences and Computer Science.
The project also includes the University’s first enterprise hub, which will support student-led innovation – another key focus of the University Strategy.
A number of similar ‘enterprise hubs’ are planned across the campus, which, according to the University, will allow students to experiment with business ideas, particularly those related to tech, and to work closely with local business partners to develop these.
Professor Patrick Hussey, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Sciences) commented: “The new facility will enable us to grow our student and staff numbers, attracting international talent to Durham, and further building on our reputation as a world leader in both Mathematics and Computer Science.
“We want to enable our students to engage with and value, innovation and enterprise. We are looking forward to seeing what initiatives will emerge from this.”
Upper Mountjoy development has been designed to have a minimal impact on key views of the World Heritage Site and Durham City Conservation Area.
The University has pledged to allow for long-term developments to the estate, prioritising teaching, research, and student accommodation in its 2017-2027 strategy.
It aims to increase the student population by 50-55% to 21,500 by 2027.
Plans to expand the University have raised questions about how the city can cope with continued expansion with many local residents fearing that the ‘town-gown divide’ will grow.
Deputy Mayor of Durham Dr Bill Moir previously said that expansion “would come as a blow” to residents.
Photograph: Durham University via Flickr