Sensory Garden at Charles Morris Hall

Storm Jameson Court is designed and accredited as ‘Access Exceptional’ by the Visit Britain National Accessible Scheme. However, whilst the site is home to student and conference wheelchair users, the grounds previously housed fairly simple shrub planting, with little opportunity for engagement.

In order to change this, we’ve set up a wheelchair accessible sensory garden focussing on use for people assessed on the autism spectrum (ASD). The planting scheme will have year-round interest and is based on advice received from Buglife’s Urban Buzz scheme in York, and the RHS Perfect for Pollinators Plant List.

The primary objective of the sensory garden is to improve access to the garden at Charles Morris Hall, thereby ensuring equal access and inclusiveness for all students, staff and visitors.

Additional objectives are to promote the well-being of students and visitors with ASD, with the planting scheme prioritised on known benefits. Also to increase biodiversity, by attracting invertebrates through the planting of species on the RHS Pollinator List. The year-round interest will assist invertebrates, especially the local Tawny Mining Bees located here on campus, and also the bees that live in hives on top of the Laidlaw Library.

Additionally, our estates team is working with the RNIB to highlight the planting of varying textures and to produce supporting guides, delivering tactile and large print versions of hand-held guides which detail what is there to enjoy!

Vibi Rothnie from RNIB charity said: “I finally took a walk to the garden with a partially-sighted friend who loved the stachys and was intrigued by the bee hotels – perfect reaction!”

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Our campus facilities are ranked top two in the UK

The University of Leeds has risen to third place in the UK in the Times Higher Education Student Survey, which asks students about their experience while studying, and placed second for its campus facilities.

The survey goes beyond the usual measures to ask students about the details of university life that matter to them the most. Leeds is the highest ranked among the Russell Group of research-intensive universities and also scored highly for its campus environment and extra-curricular activities.

The University was ranked second for its facilities, up one place from last year’s third position. Since the last survey, we’ve seen many developments on campus improving student facilities such as the £24.7m refurbishment of the Edward Boyle Library and the opening of the £5m Brownlee Centre and Cycle Circuit, plus refurbishments of the Leeds University Union and the School of Chemical and Process Engineering, in addition to further investments in our central teaching spaces.


Professor Tom Ward, Deputy-Vice-Chancellor: Student Education said: “This position is a wonderful tribute to the staff and students that make Leeds what it is: a University that excels in the quality of its teaching, its research, its international offer and – as this result testifies – in the way it nurtures its students by creating a supportive and friendly environment.

“The key is working together. We might have one of the largest campuses in the UK but we foster a small community feel. I think it’s something that we do very well indeed, and it’s great to receive this endorsement from our students.”

Read more about the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey and the University’s ranking here.

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Parkinson Tower’s hidden secrets – the history of the bells and its current residents

As focus is inevitably drawn towards the University’s ambitious capital investment projects, including Nexus and the Sir William Henry Bragg Building, it’s easy to forget that the University of Leeds is home to a number of iconic buildings that have helped support such a high standard of research and teaching on campus. The most iconic of these must surely be the Parkinson Building (the location of which much of Sir William’s work took place)

The recognisable building can be seen from across the city (and features in the University’s logo) – the view of the city and beyond, from the top of the tower is incredible.

The Portland Stone building was designed by Thomas Arthur Lodge. It took 13 years for the building to be complete and open due to World War II. Construction started in 1938 and during the war the building was used as a Ministry of Food storeroom – it was not opened as a University building until 1951. The Grade II listed art deco building stands at 57 metres tall and was named after a major benefactor of the University, Frank Parkinson, who oversaw many new build projects from 1936 onwards.

When the bells were installed in the tower in 1953, there were doubts around using synthetic chimes, it was agreed upon that imitation chimes were out of the question. A chime of four bells was installed with a tenor bell having a pitch no higher than A-flat. The four bells, costing £1,863, weigh nearly 33 cwts (264 stone).

An original chime was composed and it was agreed that the chimes “should be obvious rather than complex, tuneful rather than attempting any particular melody and should imply the simplest of harmonies” and that they shouldn’t be reminiscent of the Westminster Bells in any way.

Professor Denny from the University’s School of Music recorded several compositions, the series to be approved is known as the ‘Leeds Quarter’.

At the first quarter hour they play: – G A D B G – 5 notes

At the second quarter they play: – G B A D B A G A B G – 10 notes

At the third quarter they play: – B A D G B A D B A B D G A D B G – 16 notes

At the hour they chime: – G B A D B A G A B G A D G B A D B A B D – 21 notes

The clock mechanism is serviced twice a year, along with other tower clocks at the University (Leeds University Business School, Devonshire Hall and the Brotherton Library) by Smiths of Derby. The exterior of the tower is cleaned and the masonry is checked every 6-10 years, in 2012 it was scaffolded, cleaned and re-pointed – the hands of the clock on all four sides of the tower were removed and the clock mechanism was overhauled at the same time.

A recent visit to the tower was not to check on the masonry or the clock, however, but to check on the habitat of one of its residents. The University’s Sustainability Team have installed a box camera in the tower to observe and encourage breeding in a listed species of bird that has taken an interest in nesting in the tower over the last five years. Peregrines (latin name Falco peregrinus) normally like to nest on rocky outcrops on moorland, however, due to urbanisation, they are increasingly found in cities.

The vantage point of Parkinson Tower makes it an ideal location to nest for the peregrines (they previously had an interest in the dome of the civic hall!) The box and camera were installed in 2014 however, the birds chose another alcove leading to an unsuccessful attempt at breeding. Now that the box and camera have been moved, it’s hoped that the birds will nest this year.

Watch this space for more on the peregrines and with luck, a live feed of the box camera where we hope they will nest and breed from this year!


  • Any works on the tower are completed outside of the nesting season to avoid disturbance of the peregrines (in line with legislation).
  • The peregrines are a schedule 1 listed species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
  • They have a wingspan of 95-115cm and there are known to be 1,500 breeding pairs in the UK.
  • Thank you to Ripon and Leeds Bells for the published information on the Parkinson Tower, written by Chris Nicholson, retired from the University’s Estates Team.

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Information event: Sir William Henry Bragg Building

Date: Wednesday 21 March
Time:  2-4pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre G35, School of Chemistry

This information event is of a general nature and aimed at all staff and students across the University. Please click here to book your place.

As part of the University’s continuing investment in the campus, a new building – the Sir William Henry Bragg Building – is being built situated between the Schools of Chemistry and Electronic & Electrical Engineering on the northeast side of the campus.

Construction starts in late May 2018 and the new building will be completed in summer 2020.

This is a hugely important and exciting development for the University and we’re keen to inform and update you on the plans and progress to date and answer any questions you may have.  

The £96 million building is the largest single investment to date in the University’s estate and will become home to the Schools of Computing and Physics & Astronomy, with direct links to the School of Chemistry and Faculty of Engineering, forming an integrated campus of engineering and physical sciences.

The Sir William Henry Bragg Building will provide an exceptional environment for collaborative research, with high specification laboratories and facilities, and enhanced teaching space.

The building will also incorporate the Bragg Centre for Materials Research which will bring together researchers from schools across the University campus and beyond to create an environment that will foster ground-breaking, interdisciplinary research to accelerate impact on society.

If you have any further enquiries please contact

Our innovative Lecture Theatres are now award winning

Our three collaborative lecture theatres have recently been announced as Education Project of the Year, in the AV News Awards, which are recognised as the leading awards in the AV sector.

The £2.8m innovative transformation project was submitted into the AV News Awards by Pure AV – who were commissioned by the University to manage the installation of the new audiovisual equipment – as part of the innovative refurbishment of the lecture theatres in summer 2016.

Through working with Pure AV, the University was able to move away from traditional lecture theatre seating to a new style of collaborative booths. Each booth is embedded with digital technology to facilitate improved group working and accommodate a ‘flipped’ learning approach to large group teaching.

The £2.8m investment that was made to three lecture theatres, Dental LT, Mechanical Engineering LT B and Roger Stevens LT 8 has already been recognised as having significantly transformed teaching spaces, and in turn resulted in a significant improvement in user experience. A survey last year showed our students loved the facilities, with overwhelming user satisfaction scores above 80%!

Congratulations go out to all the teams that were involved in this innovative project, Facilities Support Services, Digital Education Service. IT Services, OD&PL amongst others.

Professor Neil Morris, Director of Digital Learning, commented: “It is fantastic to see the work of the colleagues and partners involved in creating the new collaborative lecture theatres being acknowledged through this very well-deserved award.  The rooms have been very well received by staff and students, and this is due to the hard work of the many individuals involved in bringing to life a vision for collaborative, interactive and technology-enabled education spaces that support our blended learning approach.”

Stewart Ross, Director, Commercial and Campus Support Services said: “We are delighted to receive this award – it highlights something important for us – that Leeds is successfully innovating its teaching and learning spaces so they are genuinely meeting the needs of our students and staff.  We have ambitious plans to continue this innovation and ensure our facilities are second to none.

Click here for more information about the project.

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Nexus Showcased to Senior Business Leaders

Senior regional business leaders are visiting the University this week to find out how Nexus, our new gateway to world-leading research expertise and infrastructure, will boost economic growth across the Leeds City Region and beyond.

By enabling easier access to the University’s research expertise in key growth sectors, as well as support to foster collaboration and innovation, Nexus aims to help take new ideas from concept to market and drive business growth.


“Nexus will be a vital asset in our ambitions for a thriving innovation district, encouraging the sharing of ideas and knowledge, and promoting inward investment to Leeds.”

– Tom Riordan, Leeds City Council Chief Executive 


The tour of the new innovation and enterprise centre, due to open in autumn 2018, will enable senior business leaders to find out about the new facilities, which will offer businesses flexible office and laboratory space, as well as meeting rooms.

It follows £3m of funding from West Yorkshire Combined Authority towards the University’s £40m investment to develop the initiative. The £3m is funded through the Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1bn package of government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.


“We seek to attract businesses who not only want to base themselves in our outstanding office and laboratory facilities but more importantly, want to take advantage of an environment that will help drive innovation and business growth.”

– Dr Martin Stow, Nexus Director 


Increasing innovation – along with business growth and productivity – are also headline initiatives in the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Strategic Economic Plan 2016-2036.

Analysis of Office for National Statistics data by West Yorkshire Combined Authority has shown research and development (R&D) spend in Yorkshire and Humber is just over half the UK level and that the region’s businesses invest substantially less on R&D than counterparts elsewhere*.

Dr Martin Stow, Director of Nexus, said: “We’re here to make it easier for businesses and provide a ‘hardwired’ connection to the expertise at the University of Leeds for companies who want to access ideas, infrastructure and deliver commercial impact.

“The visit is timely as we seek to attract businesses who not only want to base themselves in our outstanding office and laboratory facilities but more importantly, want to take advantage of an environment that will help drive innovation and business growth.”

Leeds-based Creative Space Management has been appointed as commercial letting agent to lease the 40,000 sq. ft. of office and laboratory space, available for occupancy from autumn 2018.

The visitors to Nexus include Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and member of West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Martin Farrington, Director of City Development at Leeds City Council, and Andrew Wright, Chair of the LEP’s Business, Innovation and Growth Panel.

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “Growing our innovation footprint is key to realising the huge economic potential of Leeds City Region and the facilities at Nexus will make a huge impact when they open later this year.

“Innovation not only brings with it more competitive companies but also increased numbers of jobs and stronger, more sustainable economic growth, all of which are central to the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan.

“These purpose-built facilities combined with access to world-class academic insight and laboratory space will complement the LEP’s own Access Innovation programme that provides funding and support for businesses who want to develop new products and processes.”

Leeds City Council’s Chief Executive, Tom Riordan, said: “Nexus will be a vital asset in our ambitions for a thriving innovation district, encouraging the sharing of ideas and knowledge, and promoting inward investment to Leeds. It will act as a great catalyst for business creation and economic growth.”

Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds, added: “Showcasing our ambitious future plans for Nexus is important, but it’s also about reiterating the University’s outstanding track record of supporting innovation, licensing and spin-out companies.

“This will be an exceptional opportunity, providing both physical and virtual communities, to make a further step change in the way we accelerate great ideas and help businesses build productivity and deliver a real commercial edge.”

The University has created more than 100 spin-out companies, with a market capitalisation in excess of £500m. Seven of these spin-out companies are market listed on AIM, which is more than any other university in the UK.

The University will also be profiling the Nexus development to an influential audience of investors and occupiers at the global property and economic conference, MIPIM 2018, as part of the Leeds City Region delegation.

Find out more about Nexus.

(Header photo L-R; Roy Perry – Senior Project Manager at Galliford Try, Cliff Wheatley – Managing Director at Galliford Try, Steve Gilley – Director of Estates at the University of Leeds, Dennis Hopper, Director of Facilities Management at the University of Leeds).

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Exciting new developments…

A number of exciting new projects have progressed significantly over the past few months, ranging from on-campus developments to collaborations across the Yorkshire region.

The most recent projects feature the development of a modular building for the Faculty of Biological Sciences, investments in Spen Farm, and the development of a major new Leeds-Bradford Centre for Applied Health Research – a joint venture between the Universities of Leeds, Bradford and Bradford Institute for Health Research (pictured).

In addition, the Leeds University Business School (LUBS) expansion is well underway along with the new Leeds Engineering and Technology Campus (LETeC).

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Latest view of Nexus

We’re now a year into the development of Nexus and we’re excited to share a live feed of the development, which can be accessed 24/7 on our site.

The story so far…

Take a look at the time-lapse below to see how Nexus has progressed over the past six months.

View the live feed

Find out more about the Nexus building

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Building a tribute to Sir William Henry Bragg

The University is to name a key building in its £96m investment in engineering and physical sciences in honour of one Leeds’ most influential scientists.


Sir William Henry Bragg won the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics with his son Sir William Lawrence Bragg, for the development of X-ray crystallography.

Their work revolutionised science by allowing researchers to examine the atomic structure of materials in detail for the first time.

Now the Sir William Henry Bragg Building will form a key part of the new developments on campus, which together with the Bragg Research Centre, which recognises both father and son, will bring researchers together to create a critical mass in ground-breaking interdisciplinary research and impact.

The name has been approved by Sir William’s family, with great grandson Charles Bragg highlighting his relative’s commitment to industry, and saying: “The Bragg family are sure Sir William would feel very honoured with this new building being named after him by the University of Leeds, given Leeds was where he did the fundamental work leading to the joint Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915.”



To read the full story, click here.

Find out more about the Integrated Campus for Engineering and Physical Sciences

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Leeds University Union Living Wall

A living wall can transform any vertical surface into a creative and stunning visual with the use of lush foliage, colourful flowers or swaying grasses. These impressive pieces have become popular in recent years in new and modern urban spaces, buildings and developments.

During the refurbishment of the Leeds University Union (LUU) – a project aiming to provide state of the art facilities and retain LUU’s status as one of the UK’s biggest and best unions – the idea of installing a living wall seemed only appropriate. The wall provides an attractive piece of living artwork in a location that would have otherwise been wasted space.

In line with the University’s Sustainability Strategy, the purpose of the wall promotes our commitment to sustainability and wellbeing. The ANS Living Wall system uses rain water through an irrigation system to water the six plant species in the feature: syngoniums (white butterfly); asplenium nidus; ahilodendron scandens; asparagus “sprengeri”; scindapsus “trebie”; and maranta leuconeura “kerchoveana”.