Durham University’s New Facility to Alleviate Student Housing Crisis

United Kingdom Europe Higher Education News by Erudera News Apr 04, 2023

Durham University

A college facility might help alleviate the student housing crisis in the city of Durham, local news reports say.

However, the new facility at Rushford Court in Durham, a former hospital converted into student hall that will become Durham University’s 18th college, still needs to receive approval to be constructed, Erudera.com reports.

Plans include a bar, socializing areas and rooms, but no additional beds are planned as part of the project. The university said that the two-storey facility is expected to improve the social experience of students and become a hub for the local community of the college.

Jeremy Cook, the pro-vice-chancellor for colleges and student experience at Durham, said that the new building would help address the demand for houses in multiple occupations (HMOs) in the city, which mean flats or properties rented out by several people who are not family members and share the same kitchen or bathroom.

As the Northern Echo reports, the City of Durham Parish Council rejected a proposal to turn a residential home into an HMO, arguing it is unacceptable for ordinary working-class people to be pushed out of Durham city by students and adding areas usually targeted are quiet and more connected places for citizens.

Rushford Court opened as a County Hospital in 1853 and closed in 2010. It has served as a student accommodation since 2018.

Palatinate, Durham’s official student newspaper, reports that the 363-bedroom complex will once again serve as the temporary home of an existing college, Hild Bede College.

“A project team, which includes representation from [Hild Bede] College, is involved in a market engagement exercise to progress with the refurbishment and redevelopment of Hild Bede and the wider Leazes Road site. This work is scheduled to start in Summer 2024,” the university said in a statement released on its website.

“Our plans will further enhance the student experience, and provide the facilities associated with a Durham University College,” it added.

The new facility project has been praised by local councilors, who said it is a milestone in the student housing crisis in Durham.

Councillor Carl Marshall also expressed support for the plans, stating that while the new facility is not a “golden bullet” that will immediately reduce the demand and need for student accommodation, it is precisely the type of development the city needs. Marshall said he hopes the plans will encourage more potential students to live in the improved building.

Durham is one of the leading universities in the United Kingdom, with more than 20,000 students.

Image source: Durham University's Twitter

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