Developments and refurbishments are underway to help the University of York expand its capacity to house and educate more students on both Heslington campuses.
On Heslington West, plans have been largely focussed on social – primarily Derwent and Vanbrugh Colleges – and teaching spaces.
Refurbishment work on the JBM Library started earlier this year, causing the entire second floor to be closed off. Financial restrictions encountered during the construction process have meant that walkways, originally planned to connect the main library building to the old Computer Science building on all floors, could not be constructed. There will only be an atrium connecting the two buildings on the ground floor level.
“In comparison to the old set up it is vast,” commented Ben Humphrys, Academic Affairs Officer, “you can barely see the end of the lines of books and its airy and modern.
“There are some really well thought through features – like the chairs have wheels so you don’t get that scraping sound when you sit down, and the glass work spaces are going to give huge new opportunities for student group work. After some of the frustrations of last year I think when everyone comes back it’ll feel like it was worth it!”
The new Harry Fairhurst Library, formerly Computer Science, is due to open next Easter. The Harry Fairhurst Library has been “designed to provide more of a different and modern style of user space for informal, social and group learning,” says Elizabeth Heaps, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Estates and Developments. The library projects have been a £19 million investment.
Renovations to the Vanbrugh-James bridge have been planned for the next academic year, as well as the bridge connecting Wentworth and James.
Heslington East developments are set to be in two ‘clusters’. The lake is scheduled to be filled in this month as part of Cluster One. The first cluster has cost around £175 million, funded by grants and money borrowed by the University. Heaps has assured Nouse that national budget cuts will not affect current work in Heslington East, as it was “in place before the recession and the cuts were announced.”
However, Heaps has said that the “overall plan [for Cluster Two] could be slowed down” despite the creation of a four year capital programme for the whole University: “some of which will be borrowed, some grants, some third party development, some business developments.”
‘Cluster Two’, due to be finished by 2011, includes the ‘York Sports Village’. The village will comprise two swimming pools; a health club ‘rivalling David Lloyd’ where an estimated 1500 University of York students are currently members; all weather football pitches and changing facilities. Plans for the Village have now been approved by both the Council and University. The general public will be ‘encouraged’ to use the sporting facilities.
Despite claiming in June that the University was in “listening mode”, Heaps has stated that the York City Stadium “is expected to go to Huntingdon area.”
The Pro-Vice Chancellor for Estates and Developments asserts that a Student Union building is “certainly in our plans”, but is unable to be funded at present by the University. “It’s something we absolutely to do,” she emphasised, “we’ve really got to do it, its been on the cards for 40 years, as Tim Ngwena says.” A Student Union building may include an International Centre.
Langwith College, as reported by Nouse earlier this year, is “likely” to move to join Goodricke College on Heslington East in 2012 as an off-balance sheet development. As a result, current Langwith accommodation may be made part of Derwent College due to high demands in student numbers.
The University has been considering transport services between the two campuses, hoping to run buses to the main campus every twenty minutes. Heaps has revealed that the University are in active negotiations with public transport providers, the Pullman bus service are “very excited to be involved”. The service would be subsidised by the University.
The Philosophy department is set to move from Derwent to the Sally Baldwin Buildings in Vanbrugh, whilst the Economics, Politics, and Maths departments are under consideration to move across to Heslington East in 2013 or 2014.