Thousands of students and their societies are set to benefit from brand new facilities after Leicester City Council announced it was selling its expansive Watershed building to De Montfort University (DMU).
Professor Shellard and Sir Peter with members of the DMU rowing teams
DMU has agreed a deal with city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby to buy the building and turn it into an amazing student facility.
The building, which backs onto the River Soar, just off Upperton Road, has its own sports hall, changing rooms, kitchens, common room area, soundproofed recording studio, office space and meeting rooms.
It will be able to cater for five-a-side football, badminton, netball, basketball, indoor hockey, indoor cricket and volleyball, as well as host meetings and activities for DMU’s 100-plus societies whose total membership adds up to more than 2,500 students. It will also provide a new base for the DMU rowing club, offering new boat storage and training spaces.
The purchase and refurbishment of the Watershed will cost around £1 million in total.
DMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard was very happy the deal had been agreed and believes the benefits for students will be huge.
Visit DMU and see how we help you learn to succeed
Are you a member of our amazing £8m leisure centre?
He said: "The Watershed purchase is all about our continued commitment to providing a first-class student experience at DMU.
"We are pleased to offer a new permanent space for the rowing club as well as new space for DMU societies in the form of a common room, rehearsal studios and additional office space. There is also a magnificent sports hall which reflects the university’s determination to develop and further improve our sports facilities.
"The university is responding to the fact that we have the largest number of student societies ever this year and we are giving them the opportunity to come together in one place to meet and thrive.
"It is also worth pointing out that we will be starting the refurbishment of the Campus Centre next year and our purchasing the Watershed will allow the students' union to continue to operate unhindered as this work is taking place.
"Our market insight tells us that prospective students are seeking high-quality sports facilities and opportunities to take part in extra-curricular activities, so there is a very strong business case behind the purchase of this property."
Professor Shellard and Sir Peter at the front of the Watershed, facing on to Upperton Road
Sir Peter said: "I am delighted that DMU is looking to breathe new life into this very important building which will help them develop their activities still further."
Students who looked around the Watershed over the weekend during the Varsity rowing events were blown away by the fact DMU was buying them a new facility.
Jack Laugher, a second year Education Studies and History student, said: "This is fantastic news for us.
"It gives us the opportunity to expand the society, gives us more space for equipment and it will bring sports clubs and societies together in a shared building which gives us more opportunities to work together."
Rower Chris Stanton, a first year marketing student, said: "It is a great time for me as a first year as I can now see this club develop in this new space and it will be great to have a place where all societies can come together and support each other."
Fellow rower Rhian Morley, first year Accounting and Business Management, said: "Sport is important to so many at the university. It brings people together and we have great times together.
"Life at DMU is not just about your course. It is about the whole experience while you study here and being in a sports society is really beneficial.
"So, it’s going to be great for us to have a big space to use and it will help us develop the society further."
Posted on Monday 23rd March 2015