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: 21 October 2021

Conceived as part of the ‘Our College, Our Future’ strategic plan, the selective renewal of our buildings will support our operations and ensure that St Catharine’s continues to offer a high standard of living and access to state-of-the-art facilities for generations to come.




Central Spaces

This extensive renovation is the second of our recent projects to be entirely funded by alumni, following the example set by the construction of the McGrath Centre. It will modernise the shared spaces at the heart of the Island site to provide our community with an accessible suite of buildings that we can all enjoy and be proud of. Watch our new video to find out more.

The project started on time on 4 January 2021 and remains on track for completion in Summer 2022, thanks to the cooperation and support of the College community. We expect the noisiest works to be completed before Easter Term 2022. Read our recent news story about the work completed so far.

Sherlock Court

We’re investing in the internal refurbishment and reconfiguration of these historical buildings to offer more modern and better facilitated accommodation, including two new accessible bedrooms with en-suite facilities.

Work began in 2020 and will continue during Long Vacations until 2023, to minimise disruption to students as much as possible. Completion of this summer’s works was delayed due to factors outside our control. A massive thank you to the students affected for their understanding and being open to discussing what support we could offer, including eight students temporarily accommodated elsewhere on the Island site. We completed works to student rooms on 15 October and we can now enjoy improved accommodation in M staircase, with additional gyp and sanitary facilities. We expect the scaffolding on Silver Street and the SDC compound on Sherlock Court will be removed by over the course of the next couple of weeks.

New development @ St Chad’s

This project will build two additional houses containing 23 bedrooms. The Octagon building will be knocked down to make way for these houses and we will create a generous communal space for students to work and socialise together in the ground floor of Old House. (The gym will have returned to the Island site around the time these new works start.) The project will also provide accessible facilities that we currently cannot offer at St Chads. The cost of this project is estimated at £6 million, realised by fundraising for the ‘Our College, Our Future’ campaign and the sale of three off-site properties that no longer met students’ needs.

Planning permission was received in April 2020 and works are due to start at the end of term in June 2022. Works will continue until September 2023 but there will be a pause on noisy works during exams in Easter Term 2023.


Constructed in the 1930s, this building has remained largely untouched since 1960. It is a priority for us to refurbish the rooms within this much-loved building to upgrade the accommodation and facilities to modern standards.

At an estimated cost of £2–3 million, the timescale for this project will depend on successful fundraising; however, the College intends to start work on completion of the Sherlock Court project in 2023.

Looking ahead

We have worked with our contractors to create an overarching summary of the activity scheduled during Michaelmas Term (provided below). Please take a look and factor this information into your plans, letting the Operations Director know if there are any issues that the College can help to address.

We want everyone to feel a sense of belonging in College and appreciate that noise early in the morning is disruptive. As a result, contractors working patterns will typically be limited to 8am–6pm Monday to Friday, with noisy works restricted to 8.30am–5.30pm. The construction industry is known for its early starts and we do find we have to remind the contractors of our agreements. We have listened feedback and are working hard to ensure that the contractors are working within this agreement – but please let us know if there are any specific problems.

The College will also publish a more detailed timetable of when the noisiest works are taking place during the period of residence. The guidance for the week ahead will be added to this page every Friday.


Activity on the Island site

Anticipated disruption

Ongoing until April 2022

Mechanical and electrical installations

General construction noise – any shutdowns will be during vacation periods and with prior warning

Ongoing until December 2021

Installing steelwork and

removal of temporary propping/structure

Use of the crane for lifting and noise from tools. General construction noise

Ongoing until November 2021

Fourth floor extension to create new student rooms

General construction noise

Ongoing until January 2022

Installing roof decking and concrete roof structure

General construction noise

October–December 2021

Breaking up concrete structure of the old dining hall

Noisy works which will be disruptive for short periods, to be indicated on the weekly timetable published on this page every Friday

October–November 2021

Cleaning the Chapel façade on the Chapel Court side. This completes works to clean the Chapel that started a few years ago.

Tools will be audible for short periods. Cleaning involves jet washing, which should be contained within the hoarding but do take care as it may be a bit wet in Chapel Court.

October 2021–February 2022

Installing new rare books/reading room (bottom of D staircase)

General construction noise – internal works so less likely to impact wider College but may be disruptive to Fellows in the rooms above.

October 2021–April 2022

Installing new kitchen and equipment

General construction noise – internal works so less likely to impact College

November 2021–January 2022

Roof works above the JCR and new dining hall. The current JCR room will not be accessible between 1 January 2022 and June 2022. During this time, JCR members will have access to the Bar

Scaffold tools will be audible for short periods. General construction noise

December 2021–February 2022

Installing stone to Chapel Court/Garden Room

General construction noise

December 2021–February 2022

Works to Armitage Room

General construction noise – internal works so less likely to impact College

Support during noisy periods

Having experienced some very noisy works in Lent and Easter Terms earlier this year, we have worked with our community to establish some general principles to support you during noisy periods:

  • Look out for our communications and check the website to plan around those activities that might cause the most disruption
  • Make use of alternative spaces to work such as the Library and departments
  • The Porters’ Lodge has a supply of both ear defenders and ear plugs, which some people have found helpful and are available free-of-charge – please just ask when you next visit

We appreciate that this disruption is far from ideal but we are continuing to work openly and creatively to identify and resolve issues that are within our control. At present, COVID-19 restrictions have been eased and our community is able to make use of departmental facilities – if this were to change, we would consider what other spaces we can make available as study areas.

The Operations Director can be contacted directly with any questions or feedback. We also meet regularly with JCR and MCR representatives if students prefer to feedback concerns that way.

Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.