Maiden Castle expansion set to begin in April

By Clara Gaspar

Durham University has announced plans for the second phase of its £35 million Maiden Castle redevelopment programme. Durham County Council approved the proposals at its meeting on Tuesday 6th February and work is set to begin in April 2018.

In the second phase of the programme, development will comprise of major indoor facility improvements and two beach volleyball courts.

The two-part programme was unveiled in February last year, when the University pledged an investment of £35 million into sports facilities, for both student and community use.

The first stage of the plan has reached near-completion. A new rubber crumb pitch has already been installed in the middle of an existing athletics track at Maiden Castle, near Durham City, and one of the hockey pitch has been upgraded.

Works to improve parking facilities and access to the site from the A177 are almost finished, whilst a second hockey pitch will be upgraded this summer.

As part of the second stage of development, the new complex will include:

  • A sports hall with 12 badminton courts and spectator provision
  • A 5 lane cricket hall
  • A purpose-built martial arts studio
  • A 90-station fitness suite with additional strength and conditioning provision
  • A sports laboratory which will house the University’s academic Sport Degree programme
  • Social learning and club room spaces
  • An expanded café
  • A changing pavilion and two beach volleyball courts will be developed to the south-east of the sports centre building

Developing new sports facilities available to students, community groups and local residents is part of Durham’s University Strategy, 2017-2027 to deliver world-class research-education and wider student experience.

As it stands, Maiden Castle hosts 15 community clubs, welcoming more than 2,000 local residents each week. In addition, the University hosts and delivers many junior development programmes, such as the Durham County Institute of Sport, which supports around 100 of the County’s most promising young athletes.

As well as benefitting staff and students, the development will enhance the University’s role as a hub for local and regional sport. Community use of Maiden Castle is set to increase from around 250 hours per week to over 700 hours per week in University term-time, and over 800 hours per week during University holidays.

Jane Robinson, Chief Operating Officer at Durham University, said: “We are proud that Durham University combines world-class research and education with an outstanding student experience.

“Sport is key to that, with over three-quarters of our students participating in sport at some level. This new investment will both allow our high-performing athletes to compete at the top levels of university sport and beyond, whilst creating more space for students to take up a new sport or enjoy physical activity in their leisure time.

“We know Maiden Castle is also extremely popular with many local residents and community groups, and we are proud of the positive role we play bringing people together through sport and physical activity.

“This development will increase community use of Maiden Castle by over 450 hours per week, across sports and activities such as cricket, martial arts, badminton, volleyball, indoor hockey, basketball, netball, volleyball and fitness classes. We have a number of specific community sport initiatives that we are looking forward to launching with National Governing Bodies and local and regional partners – this facility development will truly be transformative.

“We are very pleased that Durham County Council has supported our vision for Maiden Castle. We are looking forward to work on phase two beginning on site and all the new facilities being ready for September 2019.”

Photograph: Durham University

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