£520k Derwent refurb


The University discloses the cost of Derwent maintenance works

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Image by Andy Scott

By Luke Brown

Recent works on Derwent Nucleus cost £520,534 in total, according to exclusive information disclosed through a Nouse Freedom of Information request.

The refurbishment works, which took place between March and September 2021, aimed to “address a number of long term maintenance issues and are not linked to any wider improvements to Derwent College.”

The seven-month period was split into two phases. Phase 1 of the refurbishment included renovation of Derwent Nucleus dining hall, the café seating area, JCR and three circulation areas. Phase 1 cost £324,506. Phase 2 involved work on Derwent Nucleus bar, the Costa servery, store, stairwell and walkthrough and high level ceiling. This cost £196,028.

During the maintenance works, D-Bar has only been operating as a cafeteria and is yet to reopen permanently as a campus bar.

“It’s a joke,’ second-year Derwent student Josh Brady told Nouse. “Courtyard and D-Bar give Derwent life. Without D-Bar every night, it’s just a 1960s brutalist atrocity with a bar.”

One of York’s original colleges, founded in 1963, Derwent has long been overdue a full renovation.

More works are expected, but the University said that no plans have yet been finalised.

Last year, Nouse learned that the University spent an estimated £130 million on building new Campus East colleges Anne Lister and David Kato.

Many students living in Derwent College have expressed their frustration that so much was spent on building new accommodation whilst their existing accommodation is only getting maintenance works.

Emily Church, who lives in Derwent College, said: “It’s not fair that the University is basically ignoring that I have to live in rubbish accommodation by throwing money at new accommodation on Campus East.

“Derwent has character, but it needs a facelift. The University should be spending its money on improving the existing colleges that haven’t seen a lick of paint since the 1960s.”

Another Derwent student told Nouse: “Its a shame that D-Bar has been shut for such a long time as it was a brilliant place to start a social due to its size especially when new students were coming to their first bar crawl. Since it's been closed, there’s been a strain on other venues.

“A lot of people signed up to Derwent accommodation in the knowledge that there was a social space on that side of campus for them to use.”

Patrick O’Donnell, YUSU President, said: “I’m not aware of the specific details of what money the University has spent in Derwent as we haven’t been a part of those conversations. I would expect a rolling program of investment, as a high footfall space, supporting catered accommodation, Derwent College students, and imminently the return of D-Bar.

“As a charity, every pound generated in our venues is put directly back into supporting our clubs, societies, events and services, so it’s vital we see continued investment from the University into student spaces.”

Nouse approached the University for comment, with a spokesperson replying : “We’re really excited by the refurbishment of Derwent College, which we believe will make a big difference to the students living and studying there.

“Improvements included work on the dining hall, cafe seating area and JCR. Our campus is a mixture of architectural styles and we need to balance the requirements of updating and modernising with new designs and ideas so we can keep developing a campus for the future."