A NORTH-East university has revealed its designs for a brand new business school which will be built on the site of a city’s former swimming baths.

Durham University’s planned new £72m building in Elvet Waterside will be built on stilts to prevent flooding and have lecture theatres dug into the ground so it will not become too tall.

It has taken the university two years to come up with the proposals because of constraints on the site, which has been disused since 2008.

The Northern Echo:

Proposals have been made to build Durham University's new business school on the former city baths

Emma Flynn, who is the project supervisor, said: “This is one of the most complex sites Durham University has built on. It has constraints on all sides, from the river, in terms of flooding, ecology, heritage assets, Old Elvet and the fact it’s very close to a Unesco World Heritage Site.

“We want the local community to really like it and want to be around it.”

The building will be six metres taller than the existing swimming pool, which is now in a poor state of repair, and is further from the river, giving a better view of Durham Cathedral from Baths Bridge.

It has been designed to avoid building on the flood plain and to cope with a 3.5m rise in ground level from the riverbank to the back of Old Elvet.

The Northern Echo:

The project is being led by Emma Flynn

Several disused buildings will be demolished, though Vennel Cottage, next to the car park, will be converted into a cafe.

There will be no onsite parking, apart from six accessible spots.

It had a mixed response from those attending a public consultation event, held at Durham Town Hall yesterday.

Durham 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.

“It’s a statement but it’s terrible.”

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There would be access to the building from Territorial Lane

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.”

Another woman, who did not want to give her name, said: “I like it. The building is modern and a bit boring but it does a function and it’s better than having a swimming pool that’s derelict.”

The university wants to move its business school from Mill Lane to allow it to expand and says the city centre is the right location for the development.

Ms Flynn added: “We can’t stay on the current site because of growing student numbers.

“Our business school is taking enormous strides in terms of research and education and we are in high demand. Students from around the world want to come and study here and we want to embrace that.”

The Northern Echo:

The university hopes to submit a planning application in May and wants to complete the project by the summer of 2022.

When it is open, the existing business school in Mill Lane will become a “hub” for social science subjects currently using outdated buildings elsewhere in the university.