Campus nightclub plans shelved

Jon Greenwood, Director of Commercial Services, said the University ‘cannot afford to all the work’ needed for the nightclub at the moment

Plans to install the first permanent nightclub on campus have been ground to a halt.

Sam Maguire, YUSU President, confirmed that the University will not be converting the Derwent squash courts into a club.

Image: Matt Brown

Image: Matt Brown

The project was originally estimated to cost £200,000. However, Jon Greenwood, Director of Commercial Services, told Nouse that an additional investment of £250,000 would have been required in order to make the area wheelchair-accessible and renovate the toilet facilities. Greenwood estimated the total renovation cost would therefore be over £400,000.

He said the University “cannot afford to do all of that work at the moment” but confirmed that the plans to improve disabled access and refurbishing the toilets will still go ahead.

Greenwood told Nouse: “We always said the nightclub was subject to building work quotes as we did not know the extent of the work required and we were working to a specified budget.”

The decision comes after concerns were raised by students that the venture would not be a worthwhile investment.

Maguire explained that a compromise was reached following discussion with college JCRCs and Student Associations alongside lobbying from YUSU. He said that he hoped the outcome “will please everyone”.

The squash courts, which are situated below the bridge linking Derwent and Alcuin Colleges, currently function as a general space for student clubs and societies.

Plans would have seen the area converted into a nightclub facility with a capacity of 250 people and proposed opening hours of 23.00 – 03.00 every Saturday during term time.

According to Greenwood, in order to turn the squash courts into a nightclub, sound-proofing work would have been required at a cost of around £70,000. A further £50,000 would have been spent on DJ kit, with VAT and other charges costing around £30,000.

The University stated that the nightclub, which would have been licensed by the University’s Commercial Team and have no affiliation with YUSU, could have opened as early as by the end of the academic year.

Maguire described the decision as one which will result in “worthwhile investments for users of the space”, adding:

“I am really happy with this outcome as it has a positive effect on the current users of the space as a flat floor area for martial arts, dance etc. and those who run club nights.

“Most importantly, it isn’t a large investment on something that students didn’t want which was a £250,000+
investment into a permanent club.”

Rosalie Dowding, Chair of Derwent College, said: “The nightclub would have been a complete nuisance to those in the Derwent accommodation. Although the concept of a nightclub on campus is brilliant, the location was a bizarre choice as it would have catered to only a fraction of the student population.”

A petition was set up by a student at the University against the plans to build the nightclub.

Joe Foxon, organiser of the petition, explained that he was glad that the University had decided to listen to student concerns and he was “glad that the University has decided to realise that there are a number of better things to spend such a huge sum of money on”.

The petition collected over 480 signatures.

David Duncan, University Registrar and Secretary, told Nouse: “We are still investigating the possibility of refurbishing the building beside the Chemistry bridge for multi-purpose use. It doesn’t make sense to have facilities such as this on campus and not to maximise use of them to enhance the student experience.”

The opportunity will remain for students to book the space for one-off club nights through a Temporary Events Notice. However, this will be restricted to 10 per annum as stipulated by the law.

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