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Update on recent and upcoming works

The following information has been shared with the College’s students, staff and Fellows by email by the Operations Director.

Last updated: 8 October 2020


This update is designed to breakdown what will be happening this side of Christmas – with further information about activity in 2021 onwards to be shared in due course.

Central spaces project

In July 2020, the College received all the necessary planning permission and listed building consent to proceed with the Central Spaces project (known informally within our community as the Hub).

As a result of these permissions, some preliminary enabling works are starting this year, ahead of the main project works commencing in January 2021, which are designed to ensure that we can continue to provide a positive environment for our academic community, alumni and visitors.

McGrath Centre staircase

An illustration of the new-look McGrath Centre lobby, with a wall shielding the new staircase.

Rotating the McGrath Centre staircase is an important early milestone for the wider Central Spaces project and will significantly improve connections between the JCR, a new garden room, the bar and the McGrath auditorium. It will also be a good opportunity for us to see how the contractors are working in our environment and how such a project affects life in College.

Some key differences we will see in Michaelmas Term include:

  • There will be some noise and a degree of disturbance in the initial phase when the site is prepared, and this will certainly be the case when demolition takes place late September until the end of term.
  • Contractors will be in College 7.30am–5.30pm, although we have arrangements in place to ensure no noisy work will start before 8.30am.
  • All contractors will be aware of College site rules and will be identifiable, e.g. wearing a contractor lanyard.
  • Protective hoarding will separate construction activity from the inside and outside spaces that remain in College use: the area of Chapel Court to the right of the revolving door as you look at it, part of the foyer and the auditorium itself.  Planning is underway to screen and decorate these temporary barriers.
  • The second single door to the McGrath Centre (i.e. the one closest to the Hall) will be designated as the site entrance for our contractors.
  • Direct access into the McGrath Centre from the Bar/basement, kitchen and the first floor ‘bridge’ between Gostlin and E will no longer be available.
  • The toilets beneath the McGrath Centre (at the bottom of the stairs that you can no longer access) will not be accessible. Those next to the bar will still be accessible.
  • The external door at the rear of the Dining Hall (out to Chapel Court) becomes a Fire Exit door only for use in an emergency.
  • Rooms E5, E6 and E7, which will not be habitable year-round during the Central Spaces project, will be used as the contractors’ base for the early part of the works.
  • Use of E staircase lift will be shared by members of College with our contractors: at the McGrath Centre/ground floor level, the lift will exit into their area of work – access from the lift to this floor is only available with a specific key, which will not be available to members of College during the works unless in exceptional circumstances.

Other activity in Michaelmas Term

Other activity in 2020 will prepare the College’s Island site ahead of the main project works. This preparation and approximate timeframes will include:

  • Removal of rare books for safe keeping off-site.
  • Some trench works around Main Court to install a new fibre link: commencing on 12 October, the path around Main Court will be temporarily blocked near A staircase, so please take care and use the other paths to access staircases along that side of the College.
  • Commencing 19 October, there will be some tests in Chapel Court, McGrath Centre and Queens’ Lane to help us understand the level of noise and disruption there could be so we can put in the place the best mitigation measures possible. Look out for a form to fill in with your feedback closer to the time.
  • Towards the end of October:
    •  Removal of the four planted beds on the eastern side of Main Court to allow unrestricted access through the main College gates;
    • Removal of the main College gates, and replacement with temporary gates (which may not look much different). The original gates will be carefully stored off-site; and
    • Hoarding will go up around the Queens’ Lane gate and D staircase (access will be maintained to this staircase).
  • Early November: Installation of a temporary kitchen and hall commences on the lawn in Main Court.
  • Late November: We will start to see a crane being built in the corner of Main Court nearest D staircase.

Minimising unnecessary disruption

The College is taking care to prioritise our community’s most pressing needs and pacing works accordingly. To minimise unnecessary disruption, we are rescheduling and phasing activity where we can.

How our community can help

Please take note of any emails referring to works that are taking place, so that we can ensure measures are in place to minimise any anticipated disruption.

Thank you again to all the staff, students and Fellows who provided valuable and thoughtful input on the scope of the central spaces project over a number of months. Your continued support and feedback will be appreciated in the weeks ahead.

If you have any questions at any point, please contact Patrycja Koziol (