£7m for Hive redevelopment

Louise Wilson

Plans for the £7m redevelopment of Glasgow University Union in collaboration with the Sport and Recreation Service have been released.

The construction work, due to begin in January 2013, will be on-going until September 2014 when it is expected Hive will reopen in time for Fresher’s Week. The current Extension, which will be knocked down and replaced, was due to be reclaimed by the University to extend the current Stevenson building, after the long standing contract between the University and the Kelvin Sports Hall ended. The GUU had not been consulted about losing the Extension and instead were to receive remuneration of £250 000 per year.

After much discussion between GUU Board of Management and University Officials last year, it was agreed that the University would help fund a redevelopment. The Hive brings in the majority of Union revenue, so it was feared the removal of the Extension, which has been leased to the GUU since the 1960’s, would lead to the closure of the Union.

Initial investigation into the debt that GUU would occur during the time the Hive will be closed was expected to be £500 000 as a worst case scenario, but this has since been revised down to £375 000 assuming clubs nights and other events still go ahead elsewhere in the Union. The University has agreed to cover this deficit. The redevelopment will mean 18 months without Hive revenue, but is part of a long-term aim to become self-sufficient.

David Lockhart, President of the GUU, is happy with the result of the extensive discussion last year after it was leaked the Extension would be reclaimed. He said: “The current Extension Building, as many people know, is reaching the end of its life span. These plans represent a significant investment in the GUU. It is a signal of support in our services and our future.”

Current plans for reconstruction, which were passed by the University Court on June 20th, involved a new building to replace the Extension, the ground floor of which will belong solely to the GUU, the first floor to the Sport and Recreation Service. The plan is to keep these entirely separate from one another. In addition, the GUU has managed to secure a remodelling for the Billiards Room and a new staircase to be placed around the back of the building which will allow easier disabled access.

Lockhart went on to say: “We have maintained the style of separate bars, with a larger space acting as the nightclub. This will allow us to showcase a variety of atmospheres and to make use of the separate spaces during the day.”

The Hive will in fact have a slightly smaller floor space than current, but it is believed the new design will make the space more efficient. Lockhart also stressed there will still be a podium within the nightclub. The new building will be a development on the 1930’s basement of the building, and will be built for the specific purpose of holding a nightclub and bar. The current Extension was built as a lecture theatre and bedrooms.

At the members meeting outlining the Union remodelling, Lockhart expressed scepticism over the timely completion of construction. He did state, however, that the University have pledged to keep the Union running throughout the period when the GUU will not house a nightclub.

Fresher’s 2013 will also go ahead without a specific nightclub space, so most Fresher’s events will take place in the main building. The GUU has a reasonably sized floor space without the Extension, so Lockhart believes “the atmosphere GUU offers is our main selling point. We can recreate this in the short term in the Old Building. We have no plans to stagnate and still believe we will play an integral role in Fresher’s Week 2013.”
Any disruption caused by construction will attempt to be minimised, with much of the work being done over summer.
Lockhart went on to say: “We can all be proud of this project. From start to finish, it has be orchestrated by students, for the students.”

The University expressed their satisfaction over the up-coming developments. A spokesperson said: “We are delighted to be working closely with Glasgow University Union and the University Sport and Recreation Service on the redevelopment of the Hive nightclub and the extension of the Stevenson building. Plans are now being finalised that will ensure that both facilities are enhanced for the benefit of our students. Further details on this exciting redevelopment will be released in the near future, and we will do all that we can to ensure that staff, students and the wider community are kept fully informed of the progress of the project.”