By Luke Payne
Figures obtained by Palatinate have uncovered the substantial cost of major refurbishments conducted on the University-owned 19th-century property, Hollingside House, in 2016.
Hollingside features the Vice-Chancellor’s official residence and the main house, which is a University facility for hosting the Vice-Chancellor’s events and visitors. In 2016, cost estimate documents obtained through Freedom of Information Requests revealed that over £700,000 has been spent on the property.
The documents include a breakdown of expenditure including £43,200 on an architect, £16,572 on an interior designer and £3,792 on a bat survey. The vast majority of the costs were attributable to major internal and external works by the selected contractor.
Hollingside House is also home to a substantial number of works from the university’s valuable art portfolio acquired over the last decade at a cost of £2.5 million
Jennifer Sewel, University Secretary at Durham University, said: “Hollingside House is owned by Durham University and is used for business purposes, including meetings and events. The Vice-Chancellor lives in at two-bedroomed flat attached to the House, wherein he also maintains an office.
“The money spent on Hollingside House in 2015-2017 was to address issues of rising damp, undertake major works to the roof and for general refurbishment and decoration as part of a planned programme. No major capital expenditure has been undertaken since.”
The document shines further light on the heavy cost of the University’s policy of providing homes to its most senior employees. The figures have been uncovered shortly after Palatinate revealed draft proposals to spend millions of pounds on the properties of Heads of Colleges.
Hollingside House is also home to a substantial number of works from the university’s valuable art portfolio acquired over the last decade at a cost of £2.5 million. In 2016, Durham University was ranked the third highest university spender on artwork in England and was only outspent by Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Events held at Hollingside House have historically included lunches and dinners with a wide variety of the Vice-Chancellor’s guests ranging from ambassadors to Common Room Presidents.
Image: Amana Moore