THE boards surrounding two neo-Georgian buildings which have been empty for more than a decade have finally come down.

Durham University’s Ustinov College has officially moved to Sheraton Park, in the Neville’s Cross area of the city and has welcomed its first students.

Neville and Sheraton Houses, at the centre of the housing estate, have been under development as student accommodation since January 2016.

The buildings, originally a teacher training college, had been disused since 2004 when New College Durham moved to its current building in Framwellgate Moor.

Ustinov College principal Professor Glenn McGregor said: “The move to Sheraton Park heralds an exciting new era in the history of Ustinov College. “Whilst we will be located in new buildings, we will continue the traditions and activities that make Ustinov so popular with our students and alumni.

“We are excited about welcoming the inaugural cohort of students to Sheraton Park and working with them in our new home to further shape Ustinov College’s reputation as a scholarly community that celebrates strength that arises from diversity.”

The college has been relocated from Howlands Farm, off South Road, to allow undergraduate colleges previously based in Stockton to move into Durham.

Jamie Graham, president of the Ustinov College Graduate Common Room, said: “Sheraton Park is undoubtedly fantastic student accommodation.

“It’s now time to develop the facilities and atmosphere to make it our new home.”

Sheraton Park Residents Association chairman Mark Bell said: “While our residents have expressed mixed feelings about the nature of re-development at Sheraton Park, the efforts of all parties have certainly delivered a high quality outcome of restored heritage buildings within an attractive landscape setting which together offer valuable spaces for communal use.

“We are pleased to welcome Ustinov College as our neighbours and look forward to cooperating with the college, university and other stakeholders to ensure that all residents enjoy high levels of amenity and feel part of our growing community.”