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Key document in Uni development

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Education and council bosses look set to formally sign a pact to accelerate plans for a £36million university park in Dudley.

The work on Castle Hill has been gathering pace in recent weeks with work taking shape on the development of a university park.

It already includes the Black Country & Marches Institute of Technology (IoT) specialising in higher level technical education, opening in September 2021 and the Very Light Rail Innovation Centre due to be completed March 2022.

The next stage for the development is the planned Health Innovation Centre.

Like the IoT it will offer training opportunities for local people to develop higher level skills in healthcare, helping to address the shortage of people to take up these much needed roles in our local NHS and beyond.

It will also serve as a facility to the local community to support health and wellbeing activity. To make way for the new facility the former hippodrome and bingo hall will be demolished.

Dudley Council’s cabinet is being asked to approve plans for a ‘memorandum of understanding’ which is a formal agreement between the authority and Dudley College of Technology to develop the detailed application for this next phase. The College will work alongside University of Worcester who have been identified as the Higher Education Institution who will deliver the healthcare training from this new facility.

The signed document will agree the next phase of the plans to submit a bid for funding, and forge an even tighter partnership between the council, the college and its partners to drive the project forward at pace.

Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said:

This is a major development for the town, and I am pleased we are making rapid progress despite the restrictions caused by the pandemic.
This memorandum of understanding between the council and the college will steer our shared vision for creating a first class educational facility on a key site in Dudley and add to a rolling programme of regeneration which is taking place in the town.

Neil Thomas, chief executive and principal of Dudley College of Technology, added:

There are a number of exciting developments planned for Dudley and we are pleased to be supporting the council to create a Health Innovation Centre as part of the university park. The developments on the site are game-changing for Dudley, offering local people higher level training opportunities in order to progress in successful careers linked to local employment, as well as providing a valuable community resource.

This new addition to the university park at Castle Hill is being driven forward by the Towns Fund Board which is helping the council to secure £25million from the Government’s Towns Fund. Dudley Council owns a section of land, including the dilapidated former hippodrome and bingo hall, which is to be redeveloped to house the new Health Innovation Centre. When complete the site will boast education facilities specialising in health and life sciences, delivered by University of Worcester. The expansion of higher level technical education, that is much needed in the borough, grows ever closer to being realised with the centre due to open to students in September 2023.

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