By Luke Payne
Durham University estimates that its planned new college developments on six Durham City sites will accommodate 2,100 to 3,200 additional students. This includes accommodation spanning 1,000 additional student beds, on the Hild Bede College site, Leazes Road.
The University told Palatinate that “It hasn’t yet been determined” exactly what will go where.
Estimates for the size of the University’s new student accommodation developments have been published on the City of Durham Parish Council’s website. The figures were provided to the planning inspectorate by Durham University following the publication of its Estate Masterplan which includes the development of new colleges by 2027.
The plans include up to 1,000 new beds on the Hild Bede College site at Leazes Road, 400-500 new beds on the Elvet Hill car park site adjacent to Trevelyan College and up to 500 new beds behind Josephine Butler College. The latter could potentially mean the loss of the college’s orchard and allotment.
Sophia Baker, Josephine Butler’s Allotment Society President told Palatinate “Butler Allotment’s secluded, semi-wild, yet accessible location is a big part of what makes it so special. It would be incredibly sad to lose that. People come to the allotment and say they had never been so close to nature before. I want that opportunity to be there for future students too.”
Sam Winder, the JCR President at Josephine Butler College said the University’s expansion plans put too much pressure on the city and this was true for his college too. “Butler’s buildings were built for a community much smaller than the one that exists today; squeezing more people onto the site would be a severe loss for our students and for our city.”
With respect to development at Hild Bede College, the University’s Master Plan webpages states that “the Leazes Road site requires significant investment”. The University anticipates that users of the site will have to vacate their buildings in either Summer 2021 or 2022.
Plans for where they will relocate, have yet to be finalised. The page states that the University is “working on plans for where the College of St Hild and St Bede will be located at that point”.
The plans also include a redevelopment of the current Business School when it relocates to the old City Baths site. The redevelopment looks set to convert the site into accommodation and will house 500-800 new beds for students. Other sites selected for development include 100-200 new beds at St Mary’s College and 100-200 new beds at Hatfield College’s James Barber House off Church Street.
When discussing the new developments in an interview with the outgoing Vice Chancellor, Professor Stuart Corbridge said “clearly that there are going to be plans for the Leazes Road site, we all know that parts of Hild Bede need some care and attention.
“The Executive is working with Council through the Estate Infrastructure Subcommittee, and Finance Committee on what the options are for Leazes Road. It hasn’t yet been determined exactly what will go there. I would expect within the next year… we will have an outcome one way or another.”
At the beginning of 2021, Palatinate revealed that the accommodation buildings at its two new colleges South and John Snow were 85% owned by private companies. When asked whether this funding model would be emulated for new colleges, the Vice Chancellor said “Possibly, that’s something for the next Executive and Finance Committee to work through.”
The Hild Bede SRC President was approached for comment.
Image Credits: Durham University (Hild Bede College), Luke Payne (Elvet Hill Car Park and Josephine Butler College Allotment)