£12m revamp plans for St Andrews Students’ Union

St Andrews Student Union could be in line for a major revamp.
St Andrews Student Union could be in line for a major revamp.
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St Andrews Students’ Union could be in line for a £12 million revamp following a pledge from the University Court to partly fund the project.

The Court has agreed to invest more than £400,000 towards upgrading the building which has remained largely unchanged since it was built in the 1970s.

Should the redevelopment go ahead, the building could be completely overhauled with a new piazza and entrance including a street-facing cafe, a redesign internally to accommodate a nightclub capable of holding 600 people as well as an upgrade of the middle and top floors.

Both the proposals and investment from Court have been warmly welcomed by Students’ Association president Patrick O’Hare.

He told the Citizen this week: “Investment in the Students’ Association building is long overdue,.

“I’m convinced that the design we have addresses many of the long-term gaps in provision of the student experience, and the Association is delighted about the continued support that University Court has shown for this project.”

If the final designs and plans are approved by Court, it is hoped work can start in 2013.

The plans could lead to the current Venue One being split into two distinct entities: a 420-person performance space and a 600-person nightclub, with a lounge area for an additional 270 people.

Expansion of the middle and top floors could lead to a 40 per cent increase in ‘‘society space,’’ giving an additional six rooms.

New features may include a design suite, radio broadcasting facility and film editing suite with travel and student services relocating to another building.

On the top floor, two large flexible rooms could be introduced, both suitable for rehearsals and one soundproofed especially for musicians as well as much needed facilities such as a kitchen and an artist’s workshop.

The current Venue Two could be revamped into a bar serving wine and cocktails, aimed specifically at postgraduate students.

The redesign would also lead to a greener, more sustainable building aiming for the same standards achieved in university new builds.

Over the past few years, past and present St Andrews Students’ Association sabbatical officers have worked on plans to redevelop the building, reviewed a number of different models, carried out widespread consultations with students and lobbied the university for funding.

The University Court agreed with students that the upgrade of the Union should be a priority project, subject to available funds.

If it goes ahead, the redevelopment will be funded partly from University coffers and partly through fundraising.

University Proctor, Professor Lorna Milne, said: “The Students’ Association building hasn’t changed much since I was a student and I’m excited by the possibility of long awaited and innovative improvements.

“The Union should be a central part of the St Andrews experience and should match the high standards we achieve in so many other areas of university life.

“The University has to be extremely careful about the way it spends and commits money in this challenging and volatile economic climate, but the Union has long been a priority for us and moving to the detailed design stage is a firm indication of our commitment to this very important project.