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Formal agreement to be thrashed out on £35m ‘university park’

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Dudley Council is to enter into a formal agreement with Dudley College – as work continues at pace behind the scenes on a new ‘university park’ in the borough.

A £25million bid has been submitted to the government’s Towns Fund to help finance the majority of the £36million Higher Education complex at Castle Hill.

The project is another piece in the £1billion regeneration masterplan which has continued to drive forward at pace, despite the restrictions caused by the pandemic.

A report asks Dudley Council’s cabinet to give the authority’s regeneration and finance directors powers to formulate the terms of the agreement between the council and the college.

The report also asks the cabinet to approve spending of up to £266,000 from the council coffers on preparing the second stage of the bid for the cash from the Towns Fund.

Almost all of that amount is expected to be recouped from grant funding down the line – but council bosses do not want to delay as part of a desire to get the new facility up and running by the autumn of 2024.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said:

I am pleased to see that work is continuing at pace behind the scenes and look forward to hearing more at the cabinet meeting.
This university park will be another game changer for our borough. Not only will it transform a key gateway into Dudley, but also create fantastic opportunities for jobs, education and growth.

The bid has been drawn up by the Towns Fund Board – a partnership between the council, Dudley College, University of Worcester, tourist attractions and other key organisations in Dudley.

Andrew Lovett, Chair of the Towns Fund Board, added:

This investment will add to the major regeneration programmes already underway across the borough, all of which will advance opportunities available to local people.
Through this transformation we can lift aspirations, improve connectivity, provide better life-chances and create the environment in which every resident can pursue their dreams.

Dudley’s scheme includes a ‘university’ style campus and will provide higher education courses for the health sector.  The new facility is expected to be up and running by Autumn of 2024.

Dudley College agreed to work alongside the council to develop the new facility, after building up a degree of expertise through the development of the Dudley Learning Quarter. The teaching and learning that will take place will be driven by the University of Worcester.

Neil Thomas, Chief Executive and Principal of Dudley College of Technology, said:

The development of the university park in Dudley is truly exciting, providing local people with a cost effective route to gaining higher level skills - leading to careers in growth sectors.
With the first phase of the university park well under way and the opening of the Black Country & Marches Institute of Technology taking place this September, it is great to see the progress of a further centre dedicated to helping people pursue careers in health and sciences.
As a College we are excited to see this happen, as it will benefit students who leave us wanting to progress on to higher studies locally.
For that reason we are pleased to be working with Dudley Council and University of Worcester to ensure this new facility is a success.

The new university centre will offer higher level skills and qualifications tailored to the needs of local Health and Life Science employers. The new centre will complement the further and higher education offers at Dudley College and the new Black Country & Marches Institute of Technology. The park will also boast the very light rail test centre.

Dudley was one of 100 areas across the country invited to bid for a slice of the £178.7 million Towns Fund.

For more information on the projects or full details from the consultation, visit www.regeneratingdudley.org.uk

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