By Clara Gaspar
The primary phase of a two-part, £35m plan to enhance Durham University’s sports facilities is set to begin on Monday, 17 July.
Under plans announced in February this year, the renovations will improve the Maiden Castle sports park currently used by an estimated 75% of Durham students and a further 2,000 local residents.
The first phase of upgrades, which is due for completion by mid-November of 2017, includes: a new rubber crumb sports pitch within the existing athletics track, upgrades to one hockey pitch and the resurfacing of another, and improvements to car park facilities and access to the site from the A177.
Although still subject to a separate planning application and an ongoing public consultation, the second phase of the programme contains plans for further upgrades, including an indoor sports hall, cricket facility, indoor tennis and squash courts, and a new fitness suite.
According to a statement by the University, the investment promises to enhance the experience for Maiden Castle’s 15 community clubs, as well as its junior development programmes including the Durham County Institute of Sport, which supports around 100 of Durham’s talented young athletes.
Quentin Sloper, Director of Experience Durham at Durham University, said: “We are very pleased to be starting work on site to enhance the existing sports facilities at Maiden Castle.
“We know our existing facilities are popular with many local residents but there is a need to expand what we provide and the facility developments will enable us to do more to support recreational, club and grassroots sport.”
Meanwhile Jane Robinson, Chief Operating Officer of Durham University, said: “We hope this investment, an important part of our University Strategy 2017-2027, will be of benefit to staff, students and local residents alike.
“We want to be a good neighbour and, as such, this development will be carefully managed. We will do everything we can to keep local residents updated on progress and minimise any inconvenience caused during the development phase.”
Photograph: Durham University