Work on the Social and Catering building on Heslington East is to be put on hold for over a year.
The project, which was initially scheduled for September 2011, was planned as the first building to be erected as part of the ‘second cluster’ of development, which also includes the new Langwith College accommodation to open next year.
John Meacock, Heslington East Project Director, stated that the delay was due to the fact that “the tenders we got back from the prospective contractors were in excess of the budget allowance.”
He continued: “The Social and Catering Building will now have to take its place alongside other candidate projects to determine its relative priority.”
Planning permission for the project was only granted by the Council in December, with the building designed to cater for 400 students over two floors, with a café and wi-fi facilities. It was intended as additional social space for the expanding Heslington East part of campus, with areas also designated for informal study.
However, there has been speculation that the project was also delayed due to a perceived lack of demand for further catering facilities on Heslington East. The Law and Management building already provides students with a café and social space, and the recently opened hub also offers similar facilities.
With only three departments currently occupying the Heslington East campus and one college, there is not the necessary number of students to warrant three similar café and catering facilities.
Since the hub opened, profits at the Law and Management café have dropped by 60 per cent, and there are fears that additional competition could have further impact on the takings and sustainability of three café facilities.
The project is now planned to be built alongside the new Langwith College, set to be ready by October 2012 for students, after which demand is predicted to increase.