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Bowland students have been disappointed once again this week by the University as refurbishments to the bar have been set back a second time.
Despite being planned for over a year, the much needed refurbishment of the university’s oldest bar has once again been delayed. Initially proposed to close last May for the building work to commence over the summer break, the bar is still open but will hopefully close for refurbishment next March.
The earliest plans included a combined bar and café built around the existing bar and Bowland offices, but that was seen as impractical to staff. A redesign is in progress, with a meeting being held in Week 6 to look at options. Joe Thornberry, the College Principal, is confident that “once they’re finalised and costed [the plans will] be contracted out”, although he did warn that “all this takes time”.
There were several factors that delayed the proposed refurbishments, the chief of which was the delays of affecting the Learning Zone. This major project demanded a large proportion of the faculty’s attention, reducing their willingness to undertake another large build simultaneously.
At a more concentrated level, the bar’s takeover by University Catering under David Peeks, who was reluctant to quickly refurbish, provided what Thornberry described as “a complication but not a major obstacle”. Bowland JCR President Tom Skarbek-Wasynski agrees that this was a challenging takeover, stating that “Peeks’ news came too late”. The JCR had already organised a collegiate student and alumni farewell weekend for the bar. Skarbek-Wasynski claims that “greater consultation could have come from the university, especially at a college level”.
The wider problem now is that the university will be less willing to fund a project at the near £1 million mark it was proposing to invest. The original plans would have placed Bowland as having the most expensive bar on campus. For this reason, although optimistic that the bar will eventually receive its makeover, Skarbek-Wasynski admitted “there’s a possibility it will be pushed back again”. This could leave Bowland without a bar for Extrav, something Thornberry is keen to avoid after the mixed success of last year’s relocation to the Great Hall.
For all involved, however, the crucial aim is to get the bar design right for when it is eventually built. The JCR, college officials and students are happy with the concept of a comfortable, traditional bar that echoes the current feel according to their president, who said he’d “rather push it back than rush in with a bad design.”
Despite the bar being delayed, other construction around Bowland has been approved. The orange hoarding outside University House will be the site of Bowland’s admin wing and porters’ lodge, making it the only college with an exterior entrance. Thornberry is optimistic that this plus the proposed bar changes will revitalise the college over the next few years.