Sheila Silver Library, Leeds Beckett University


The £1.5m refurbishment of the Sheila Silver Library at Leeds Beckett University was needed as part of the university’s ongoing upgrade and maintenance programme of its city centre campus. The second floor library needed to be reconfigured and updated.


Sewell Construction secured the project through competitive tender and an interview process. We also demonstrated our capabilities for this type of work by showcasing our working relationship with Leeds City College.

Daily meetings were held with staff and we were on site throughout the university’s exam period, so we also rescheduled some of the demolition work to out of hours, between 2am and 7am.


Work involved removing the old library and consulting rooms, turning it into an open plan space, building a new library and rooms, as well as IT hubs and suites.

As this was a live site, we worked closely with the client and their existing library team so we kept any disruption to a minimum.

We had weekly visits from our health and safety manager to ensure we had thought about each stage and taken the necessary steps to ensure everyone’s safety while working in a live environment.

Consideration was given to materials used on site from a Facilities Management lifecycle perspective and minor modifications were made on site to ensure better flow of the circulation areas.

Our construction programme was planned to run for 16 weeks. But we delivered in 14 weeks by working closely with our supply chain using a single team approach to deliver early and to the highest quality.


The construction programme was delivered two weeks ahead of schedule with zero accidents, zero defects and on budget.

There was a local spend of £1.1m and 70% of the local supply chain, as well as 75% of the workforce, were from Leeds, with the inclusion of two apprentices.

Sewell Construction has been reappointed to complete the next stage of the Sheila Silver Library refurbishment.

Work will include full refurbishment of the existing space, demolishing walls, redesigning the floor layout, installing new ICT and library facilities, and creating meeting rooms and breakout spaces as part of a full modernisation programme.

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accident frequency rate in 2017
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“Sewell were a new contractor to the university and quickly bought into the partnering ethos adopted by the project team. The level of communication issued was exactly what we expect as a client working within a live environment. Further to this, the site manager was very responsive to requests made by the university and worked well with the library staff. The final product produced by the Sewell team has set a new high standard and we would be delighted to work with Sewell on future projects.”

Nicholas Foster, Estates Project Manager at Leeds Beckett University.