By Madeleine Horton
Construction work has begun to create a major new £31 million sports and wellbeing facility at Durham University’s Maiden Castle complex.
The new state-of-the art centre will comprise of a brand new indoor cricket hall, a 12-court sports hall suitable for international and national competitions; a fitness suite, martial arts dojo; purpose-built recovery facilities, and weight rooms.
Members of the University board, centre staff and users attended a special ceremony yesterday to mark the beginning of building works by construction firm Galliford Try.
The major improvements will mean a dramatic increase in available facilities for users, including fitness classes and a specialist sports laboratory building.
Scheduled works are also set to include the creation of a fitness and well-being trail from the local Racecourse to the Maiden Castle site.
Completion of the facility’s refurbishment is expected in August 2019, with the Maiden Castle building expected to be open for use in Winter 2019.
The work is welcome news for Durham University, which is one of the country’s top sporting universities – both in participation and performance. Over three quarters of Durham students participate in some form of sporting activity. Durham University is particularly well-known for its excellence in team sports.
Enhanced facilities will offer the institution opportunity to host major sporting events and competitions.
In addition to university students, Maiden Castle is important to the local community and is used heavily by local residents and sports groups. The complex hosts 15 community clubs and engages more than 2,000 local residents each week.
The University also currently runs a number of junior sports development programmes, including the Durham County Institute of Sport – an initiative supporting around 100 of the county’s most promising young athletes.
Durham University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Owen Adams, said: “These exciting new facilities will leave us perfectly placed to reinforce our position as one of the very top sporting universities in the UK.”
“We believe in the extraordinary power of sport and physical activity to bring together people of all backgrounds and abilities – whether they are students, staff, or members of the community.”
“Our existing Maiden Castle centre is already very popular with local residents and all of the new facilities will be accessible to the local community on a daily basis. We think this development can be transformative for sport in the city and the surrounding area.”
“The construction of the new site and refurbishment of the existing centre will build upon work carried out last year, which led to a new rubber crumb sports pitch, upgraded hockey pitches, and improved car parking facilities.”
Adams continued: “Sport can build character and shape personal growth. We strongly believe that investing in sport is an investment in the quality of our future graduates who then go on to help change the world.”
Durham University’s initiative to build a large-scale and integrated sports park at Maiden Castle is included in the 2017-2027 Strategy and is part of the University’s ‘Estates Masterplan’ programme for developing the Durham estate long-term.
The works have been welcomed by both Team Durham and community groups.
Photograph: Durham University