August 15, 2019 @ 13:19 by Richard Dawson
Plans have been submitted to the local council to transform the former site of Durham Baths into a £75 million business school.
Durham University wants to construct the new building at Elvet Waterside, on the site of the city’s old swimming pool, which has been in disuse since 2008.
The plans outline a six-storey building — with two levels below ground — that will be partly supported by stilts to prevent flooding.
The university already owns several buildings to the rear of the site in Old Elvet, and these will also be converted for use as business incubators, while a listed cottage will be converted into a café.
Professor Simon Hackett, who is sponsoring the project, said: “We see this as an exciting proposal that would lead to the rejuvenation of a derelict area of Durham, delivering significant economic benefits for the city and opening up the river front with public spaces.
“The proposal would provide the business school with innovative and world-class facilities while remaining sympathetic to the environment and surroundings.”
The business school is currently located at Mill Lane, but the university wants to relocate to allow it to expand.
In a bid to prevent flooding, the new building will be set back further from the river than the existing baths structure, with stilts lifting the building’s top levels off the ground.
The business school will not have its own car park and is being specifically developed as a car free site.
A public consultation event was held in March, when the plans received a mixed response from residents.
Local resident Robert Elliott said: “I utterly despair of the architecture. The project is fine and so is the site, but the architecture is dreadful for the middle of a historic city.”
While another resident, John Gibson, said: “I’m just wondering if it matches the conservation zone, but I think it really needs to be seen when it’s up. It could be horrible, but it could be nice.”
If the plans are accepted, the old Mill Hill building will become a hub for the social sciences, which are currently based in outdated buildings elsewhere on campus.