‘Education village’ vision for students

Pioneer House
Pioneer House

Dewsbury’s Pioneer House could be transformed into a new “education village” for Kirklees College students.

If councillors agree to plans it could be redeveloped as a hub for youngsters striving for careers in media, art, healthcare, business and finance and construction.

Kirklees Cabinet members will decide on the plans at a meeting on Tuesday, March 8.

The college has bid to the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for more funding towards the proposals.

Kirklees College vice principal Melanie Brooke said: “The potential investment in education facilities through the development of Dewsbury Education Village would mean that we are able to provide fantastic opportunities for students, employers and apprentices in this area in a more accessible town centre location.

“Should this gain approval, and then subject to final approval by the LEP later in the summer, the Dewsbury Education Village project would provide the college with a chance to redefine and build on its offer to meet the needs of local businesses, school leavers and the wider community.”

Students would relocate from the Halifax Road campus to Pioneer House, which would accommodate 1,000 students.

Kirklees Council has already spent around £2.5m to protect Pioneer House from deterioration and to refurbish the clock tower and windows.

The building’s redevelopment would provide “higher level skills”, apprenticeships and post-19 education.

Another learning hub would be created on part of the former Safeway supermarket site on Bradford Road. This would accommodate around 1,600 daytime students aged 16-18.

Coun Peter McBride, who has responsibility for regeneration and skills, said: “If my colleagues agree to the plans, it is the kickstart to wider regeneration and investment in the town. The building is important in itself – but this also allows other pieces of the jigsaw to fall into place.”

Cabinet members may also approve grants for three properties as part of the five-year Heritage Lottery- and council-funded Dewsbury Townscape Heritage Initiative. The properties are Northgate House, 38 Northgate/47 Foundry Street and 13-17 Corporation Street.