Initial work has started this week to clear the land which will see two brand new educational facilities built in the heart of Dewsbury town centre.
Council Leader Cllr David Sheard, former Kirklees College Principal Peter McCann, LEP Chairman Roger Marsh, Kirklees Council Deputy Chief Exeuctive Jacqui Gedman, Kirklees Council Chief Executive Adrian Lythgo and Kirklees College Acting Deputy Principal Melanie Brooke at the Pioneer House site.
In partnership with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Kirklees Council, and as part of the wider regeneration program for Dewsbury, Kirklees College plans to open the ‘Dewsbury Learning Quarter’ in 2018.
The two new centres will replace the current Dewsbury Centre and Batley School of Art, both on Halifax Road.
A new purpose-built facility will be developed on the Bradford Road site, next to Lidl, mainly for full time students aged 16 to 18, and will include specialist areas for foundation learning in construction and motor vehicle courses.
The plans also involve transforming the iconic landmark Pioneer House into a centre for higher level skills, apprenticeships and post-19 studies, specialising in creative and digital media and art, healthcare, business and finance.
Work is expected to start on Pioneer House in spring 2017.
Pioneer House is the former Co-operative building on the edge of Dewsbury town centre, and has been on the council’s portfolio since 2011 after it used a compulsory purchase order to take the property from a negligent landlord who had failed to maintain the Grade II listed property. The council undertook a safeguarding envelope to preserve the building, and provide a development platform.
Dewsbury Learning Quarter is being funded by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Skills Capital Fund in partnership with Kirklees Council.
Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the LEP said: “I’m delighted to see another project in our overall £79m programme of investment in new, world-class college facilities moving forward.
“Central to our ambition is ensuring that all young people in our City Region have access to fulfilling career opportunities, and that businesses are able to find employees with the right mix of skills to grow.
“As well as supporting the creation state-of-the-art college facilities, I’m thrilled our investment will help to provide young people with high quality skills in growing industry sectors that match future labour market demand.”
Kirklees College Acting Deputy Principal Melanie Brooke said: “The college, in partnership with the local authority and LEP, are delighted to be starting work on site at the new Dewsbury Learning Quarter development.
“It’s a very exciting time for us and for Dewsbury, not only will we be able to provide further training and learning opportunities, but this development will also play a part in boosting the Town’s economy in the long run.
‘We have a lot of work to do, but are already looking forward to the eventual opening in 2018 of the facilities and what we hope will be the start of a new journey for staff, students, employers and the wider community.”
Councillor Peter McBride, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “The move is an important first step in the North Kirklees Growth Zone. This is not only a priority for the council but it is important for the City Region.
“The LEP and West Yorkshire Combined Authority have provided funding which will support the creation of a new learning quarter in Dewsbury and bring the vibrancy and footfall that the college brings, into the town centre.”