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Breaking ground

Breaking ground

The University of Leeds is transforming its campus by investing more than £300m in a host of new state of the art educational, research, residential and leisure facilities.

The University of Leeds is transforming its campus by investing more than £300m in a host of new state-of-the-art educational, research, residential and leisure facilities.

The programme is one of the biggest capital investment projects in British higher education. Its over-arching vision is to provide staff and students with a world-class campus and is integral to Leeds' ambition of securing a place among the world's top 50 universities.

Swathes of the University's grounds will be remodelled to improve access and ensure a more pleasant working environment, new buildings will be erected and many existing properties upgraded and modernised.

Main projects include a new home for the school of law, a new 500-bed student accommodation building, a new energy building and a £28m refurbishment of the library. A swimming pool and fitness centre is being built as well as a childcare centre, and a £23m refurbishment and extension of earth & environment facilities is underway.

One of the key buildings - the landmark £16m Marjorie and Arnold Ziff building, home to student services and providing teaching space for languages, part-time and continuing students and international foundation year students - will officially open in May.

In addition to the £300m overall investment, a further £80m is being spent to bring the estate up to modern standards.

University of Leeds Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Arthur, said: "Amazing research and inspiring education has taken place here for over a century. By investing now, we will ensure this happens for another 100 years.

"We already have a tremendous campus in the heart of Leeds, but small parts are outdated and in need of improvement. Despite the economic uncertainty that the world is facing, now is the right time to make this investment to ensure we continue to attract the best staff and students, who expect a world-class institution like Leeds to have world-class facilities."

The investment programme is the biggest seen at the university since the 1960s and is to be funded by a combination of money from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), university reserves and financing loans.  The programme from 2012 onwards is subject to continued funding from HEFCE and property sales.

The 120-year-old campus is one of the largest self-contained city centre university campuses in the UK. Two thirds of the campus is within designated conservation areas, and extensive work has gone into ensuring the new developments will be sympathetic to the surrounding environment. 

Buildings included in the capital investment programme are already attracting plaudits. The Marjorie & Arnold Ziff Building and stage@leeds, a new state-of-the-art home for the School of Performance and Cultural Industries - won New Building Awards in the 2009 Leeds Architectural Awards.

The new buildings will be environmentally friendly and include cutting-edge green technologies. New pedestrian routes will be established, helping to 'open up' the university to the public and improving disabled access. A central square will be built in the middle of campus.

Robert Sladdin, the University of Leeds Director of Estates who has masterminded this project, said: "The University has a tremendous architectural heritage which includes Georgian, Victorian, neo-classical and 1960s 'brutalist' styles.

"This new phase of development will complement and enhance what is already at Leeds. The improved facilities will make it a better place to work, and the landscaping around campus will also improve the overall university environment."

The programme will benefit city residents, as well as providing staff and students with a world-class base. The local community have been involved in the consultation process. The construction of two new student accommodation buildings on campus is expected to ease traffic congestion near the university and in Headingley.

Main projects about to get underway or already started include:

Earth and Environment

The phased refurbishment and construction of this £23m development is already underway. Refurbished laboratory space in the west wing will start to be opened for staff and students in March/April 2009, and the completion of the remaining elements of the scheme, both new build and refurbished, will follow in November 2009.

Charles Morris Hall

The demolition of Mary Ogilvie, the existing 108 bed student accommodation block, and construction of a new 500-bed, £27.1m building began in March 2009, with an expected completion date of June/July 2010.

Childcare centre

Work is underway on the creation of new 140 place staff/student childcare centre and a new landscaped green square on adjoining plot.  Work on the £3.6m project is expected to last approximately 12 months.

Swimming pool and fitness centre

Work has commenced on the construction of the new £12.2m swimming pool/gym complex on the south-western edge of campus, and is due for completion by the end of February 2010.

Energy building

This £15m development is currently in design stage, with new build work expected to begin in late summer 2009, and due for completion by the end of 2010.

Law building

This £14m project is currently in design stage, with work planned to start in late summer 2009 and be completed by 2010.

Edward Boyle Library

A £28m redevelopment of the library has been approved by the University and the consultant design team is in the process of being appointed, with a view to work commencing late 2010.

Innovation City Leeds

Plans for a £28m 'Innovation City Leeds' building and bio-incubator which would help position the city as global hub for enterprise and innovation are subject to approval.  If given the green light, work would start in the autumn 2009 and complete in 2011.

For further information:

Please contact the University of Leeds Press Office on +44 (0)113 343 4031 or email

Notes to editors:

 The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK with more than 30,000 students from 130 countries. With an annual income of almost £450M, Leeds is one of the top ten research universities in the UK, and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015.

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