By Clara Gaspar
Durham University has revealed its plans to build a new £41.9 million Mathematical Sciences and Computer Science building, as well its plans for infrastructure development.
This will be part of Durham University’s 10-year expansion plan, which aims for an increase in student numbers of around 5,600 by 2027.
Building work is expected to begin in September of this year and be completed by September 2020. The intake of Mathematical and Computer Sciences students is set to double over the 10-year period, from 800 to 1,600 students. The new building will accommodate for this increase.
Professor Patrick Hussey, ProVice-Chancellor of Maths and Computer Sciences, has said that the new building will be “student-centric” with study spaces and an innovation hub for student societies.
The developments are also set to double staff numbers by 2027.
He told Palatinate that in the past four years applications to Computer Science courses at Durham University have tripled.
He said: “At the moment, we turn away so many high-quality A-star students.”
Prof. Hussey added that the current building is not suitable for students: “It does not have modern teaching facilities and doesn’t even have areas where students can congregate and study.”
He stated that the building will “provide a home for people to come together and talk tech.”
Karl Southern, a second-year Computer Sciences student, told Palatinate: “I’m pleased that we now have a new building that will provide room for our rapidly expanding department, with staff numbers now set to increase and I hope that this will allow for us to expand the range of modules that we offer.”
The University has also proposed the construction of a new pedestrian walkway to the East of South Road which aims to ease congestion on the road itself.
Path improvements will be made between South Road and Elvet Hill Road, which will improve access for students at Trevelyan college.
The University said that “the creation of the new route will be achieved through widening existing paths” and “constructing new paths”.
In addition, there will be a second entrance for cars to the Mountjoy site via Hollingside Lane.
A new carpark of up to 250 spaces is also proposed at Upper Mountjoy, which will cancel any loss of existing spaces lost elsewhere in the Estate Masterplan.
Meanwhile, Durham County Council is looking to alleviate pedestrian traffic on Church Street by widening the pavement to three metres wide in places, thereby reducing the width of the road.
This development will be confirmed after a consultation with the local community in around two months’ time.
This would affect parking spaces on the street, the relocation of a bus stop and proposed changes to the Boyd Street junction.
Amelia McLoughlan, president of Durham Students with Disabilities Association, told Palatinate that it is crucial that the University takes accessibility into account in their planning of new buildings and pathways.
McLoughlan said: “The University is going to undertake big changes, and they should employ personnel to organise accessibility.”
She added that “If Durham is going to advertise the Durham Experience, then they need to make sure it is an inclusive experience.”
Residents have repeatedly expressed frustration with the expansion plans. A community forum held last month saw over 200 people gather together to scrutinise the plans puts forward.
One resident at the forum commented: “It is safe to say we’re angry. We are angry about this word ‘ambition’ and the greed.”
Professor Stuart Corbridge told attendees at the event that the University would need to “digest” the frustrations aired.
Photograph: Durham University