Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) provider Unite Students has started work to improve and extend its Rushford Court scheme in Durham, in partnership with Durham University. Works to upgrade the development will be completed in Autumn 2024.
Rushford Court first opened as County Hospital in 1853, closing in 2010 and Unite Students opened it as a PBSA scheme in 2018. During the 2019/20 academic year, it was used as the temporary home for the university’s John Snow College.
With works now underway at the 358-bedroom development, the site is set to include a new two-storey amenity college building featuring a junior common room with a cafe, bar and social space, reception and study space, which will be built into an existing sloped gradient on the site. The current reception building will be transformed into a gym and yoga suite.
“We’re delighted to start work to upgrade Rushford Court, delivering new facilities on site to enable the property to become Durham University’s newest college. This is an exciting step forward as it allows us to strengthen our ongoing partnership with Durham University. I look forward to seeing the scheme progress over the next year and ultimately students and college staff enjoying the use of the building for many years to come.”Richard Smith, Chief Executive, Unite Students
Plans to develop Rushford Court, which currently boasts an on-site gym, cinema room and games area, were unanimously approved by Durham County Council planning committee earlier this year. The committee stated that biodiversity and carbon reduction were both above and beyond the required levels, and the proposal reduced the pressure on permanent residents and the risk of loss of housing to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
Rushford Court will become the temporary home of the university’s College of St Hild and St Bede from September 2024 while the proposed redevelopment of the University’s Leazes Road site takes place. Works on the Harding Building will see college staff offices and welfare and study spaces created, alongside the reinstatement of the historic entrance.
“This exciting development will enable the university to provide a home to our much-loved Hild Bede College, while we redevelop their historic home. Following this, it is intended for Rushford Court to become our newest college, creating a thriving community of students at all levels of study, from all subject areas.”Jeremy Cook, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience), Durham University
Unite Students will continue to operate the building while work is carried out, with residents staying at the property. Long-term, it is the university’s intention to establish a new 18th college at Rushford Court.