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More storage space for societies

The old Unity Health is to be used for storage space for societies after long negotiations with the University estates team

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Image Credit: Annie Watson

The old Unity Health surgery on Heslington West is to be used for society and sport storage, YUSU announced on Friday. The building, which has been vacant since the health centre moved to its new home in Kimberlow Hill, has long been suggested by activity officers as a way to solve the mounting crisis for societies looking to store equipment on campus.

Student groups will be able to apply to move to Unity Health in the near future. The plan to move societies in is a temporary solution to storage issues, and has involved a long-term negotiation with the University estates team, who have previously been hesitant to allow student groups access.

Society storage issues go as far back as 2018, after societies were moved out of Grimston House to make way for NightLine. Since then, multiple societies have been contesting for space inside Vanbrugh’s Eric Milner blocks. That space has been at a premium considering the relatively small size of the Heslington West campus relative to York’s growing number of societies needing equipment storage. FragSoc, NightSafe, and DJSoc all have large space demands, and Technical Theatre Society maintain a large array of lights and other equipment to service almost all of York’s performance groups
during productions across semesters.

The announcement on Friday will be good news for many of the societies sharing small rooms in Eric Milner. FragSoc has long criticised the “unsafe mess” in one room, while a ComedySoc representative likened the experience of retrieving equipment in the room to appearing in an episode of Total Wipeout. There is no information yet on when societies will be permitted to move their equipment, or which societies will be moving out of their current homes, largely in James.

In Nouse’s January 2018 edition, it was reported that the opening of Heslington East’s Piazza building would bring an end to storage woes. Since then, the problem has only worsened: almost every Activities Officer has run on the promise of expanding storage options and space.

Suggestions to expand storage included the introduction of shipping containers and, later, the use of the Unity Health building. A 2019 investigation on storage, however, found that the space was not usable in the long term due to plans to have it demolished, as well as concerns it might be haunted.

In a statement regarding this victory for more storage space, YUSU told Nouse: “We are still finalising the details of when we will be able to allow student groups to begin using the facility, but we hope that this will be in the next few weeks! This is a temporary arrangement as the site is part of the University’s development plans, but we are continuing to work with the Estates team to ensure permanent storage is available for student groups to move into in the long-term. We’d like to thank our student groups for being patient with us and thank the University Estates team for their help, flexibility and hard work.”

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