The first phase of a multi-million pound sporting programme will get underway next week.
Work to enhance sports facilities at Maiden Castle in Durham, which are already used by more than 2,000 residents each week, is to begin on Monday.
Durham University is making a substantial investment to improve its sports facilities for student and community use.
The first phase of a two-part £35million programme to create an integrated sports park, will see a new rubber crumb sports pitch created inside the existing athletics track, one hockey pitch upgraded and another resurfaced.
The existing car parking facilities and access to the site from the A177 will also be improved in the first phase, due to be completed by mid-November 2017.
The second phase of the programme, which would provide an indoor sports hall, cricket facility, indoor tennis and squash courts and a new fitness suite, is the subject of a separate planning application and ongoing public consultation.
Maiden Castle currently hosts 15 community clubs, engaging more than 2,000 residents each week. In addition, the university hosts and delivers many junior development programmes including the Durham County Institute of Sport, an initiative that supports around 100 of the county’s most promising young athletes.
It is hoped the new investment will both benefit staff and students and enhance the university’s role as a hub for local and regional sport.
Quentin Sloper, Director of Experience Durham at Durham University, said: “We are very pleased to be starting work on site to enhance the existing sports facilities at Maiden Castle.
“We know our existing facilities are popular with many local residents but there is a need to expand what we provide and the facility developments will enable us to do more to support recreational, club and grassroots sport.”
Jane Robinson, Chief Operating Officer of Durham University, said: “We hope this investment, an important part of our University Strategy 2017-2027, will be of benefit to staff, students and local residents alike.
“We want to be a good neighbour and, as such, this development will be carefully managed. We will do everything we can to keep local residents updated on progress and minimise any inconvenience caused during the development phase.”