University gears up with £134m expansion scheme

Dr Malcolm Butler & Prof Mike Hounslow outside the old Jessops Hospital buildings.
Dr Malcolm Butler & Prof Mike Hounslow outside the old Jessops Hospital buildings.

THE University of Sheffield is aiming to step a gear to enhance its reputation as one of the best engineering centres in the country, announcing plans to upgrade and expand its faculty at a cost of £134m.

In one of the city’s biggest regeneration projects, it is looking to build an £80m teaching block on the former Jessop Hospital site and to spend £54m on refurbishing its existing engineering complex off Mappin Street.

Already it is due to start work next month on a £21m engineering graduate school in nearby Newcastle Street.

Prof Mike Hounslow, head of the engineering faculty and pro vice-chancellor at the university, said: “Sheffield is a great engineering city and is already home to one of the UK’s largest UK faculties of engineering.

“We are currently third in the country behind Cambridge University and Imperial College, in London.

“Our proposals give us the opportunity to create the best engineering faculty in the country.”

It is intended to increase the number of staff by 381 from the current level of 800, and there would be 1,600 students in addition to the 3,700 existing engineering undergraduates.

Operations director Dr Malcolm Butler said expansion was necessary because current facilities would struggle to cope with increased students and most buildings were in poor condition.

He said: “What we have is not what we want to see 21st century engineers working in.”

Keith Lilley, director of estates and facilities management, said: “We have very good quality research but we haven’t great buildings.

“We are a registered charity and with the new funding arrangements from the Government we receive less public money than before.

“However, due to our success in the faculty of engineering, with a turnover of £100m this year alone in terms of research, we are able to self-finance to develop for the future.”

One potential element of controversy is the possible loss of the grade II listed Edwardian extension to the old Jessop Hospital to make way for the £80m development.

Different design options have been drawn up, including the incorporation of the historic building plus, but the preferred option is demolition.

Mr Lilley said: “Having a new building across the whole site would allow us to provide around five per cent more space and cost 10% less per square metre. A totally new building would create 19,600 square metres of space whereas incorporating the hospital wing would provide 17,300 sq metres.”