Concerns raised over disruptive construction works on campus

The University’s £66mn building projects continue to cause disruption on campuses

Image: Simon Cocks

Image: Simon Cocks

Concerns have been raised about the amount of building works taking place on campus at the moment. One second-year English student told Nouse: “I was very shocked when I returned to campus in September to find all the building works going on. I feel so sorry for the new students who have just started at York who have been welcomed onto a building site.”

Other students have commented that the decision to run several building works simultaneously has adversely changed the image of the campus and may create excessive noise that could disrupt teaching.

A third-year Psychology student said: “The building work significantly changes the atmosphere on campus. It’s a shame that many older students will have to deal with the disruptions while having less time to enjoy the finished areas.”

The University of York is spending £66mn on building projects over the next two years. There are five projects currently underway with a sixth, the construction of a health centre and shops on Heslington East, due to commence soon. The Environment Building, which is due to be ready for the start of the spring term, is costing £12.5mn.
The Spring Lane teaching complex adjacent to Derwent College will cost £13mn and the second phase of the redevelopment of the Biology department is costing the University £16mn, a sum which includes a £5mn grant for science from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

The biggest, most expensive project is the Heslington East Piazza at £25mn, which will allow Langwith, Goodricke and Constantine to offer a catered option to students. The building will also become home to a 350-seat lecture theatre, study space and an ‘International Pathway College’ which will host preparation courses to international students who wish to study at the University.

The redevelopment of the Vanbrugh Piazza is also still ongoing. but there will be a first showing of it on 27 October  for the inauguration of the University’s sixth Chancellor, Malcolm Grant. After 27 October, the pier on Greg’s Place will be finished in addition to the construction of access for disabled students.

The gradient of the ramp down to the piazza from Vanbrugh will be lowered to make the space more accessble. A large TV screen on the side of Vanbrugh dining hall facing the piazza, will also be added at a later date, estimated to cost £140,000. The area will be available to book out for  socials and FilmSoc are planning to host movie nights on the area if a screen is put in place.

The official launch of Greg’s Place will occur later in the year. There will be a steering group who aim to find out how students would like the area to be used.

Commenting on the ongoing building work, David Duncan, University Registrar and Secretary, said: “Taken together, these projects will significantly enhance the campus and improve the learning and teaching environment. We will do our best to keep disruption to a minimum while these works are underway. The patience of both staff and students is greatly appreciated.”

Ben Leatham, YUSU President, told Nouse: “The University has invested in a number of developments currently being carried out on campus. It is encouraging that these developments work to improve the academic experience of students at York along with the student experience in general. I look forward to seeing them complete.”


  1. There’s something about causing the most disruption at the worst times…

    Perhaps they should have considered scheduling work over the summer, whilst campus was quiet~?

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    • They did. It started over summer, and in some cases before the summer break. I suppose that things might take longer than a few months to complete sometimes?

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  2. The vanbrugh piazza barely looks different…

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  3. As an MSc student, I will only be around for one year and will have spent it basically on a building site. I think they should consider giving a reduction in tuition for this year as we have had to spend the time taking detours past smelly and ugly construction sites. The parking situation is ridiculous – I drive in to campus (no public transport from where I live) and pay an annual fee for parking and every morning when I arrive (no later than 8:30 to get a space), I watch numerous construction guys in their safety vests parking in staff parking areas. Why not have them park off-campus and have a shuttle in? It really has not made for a very pleasant experience and we don’t even get the benefit of the new buildings.

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