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Leader urges rapid regeneration in Dudley

The leader of Dudley Council today said plans for a new “university” must continue at pace as council bosses look set to consider details in a report next week.

The proposals for the higher education campus at Castle Hill, Dudley, are part of a £1 billion regeneration masterplan.

It also includes driverless vehicles technology, very light rail innovation and the metro extension through Dudley town. A Towns Fund Board is overseeing the project including securing money from the government’s Towns Fund.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said everyone involved must ‘continue with the positive momentum on the project’.

A detailed report on funding will go before a meeting of the cabinet on September 23.

The report will highlight progress on the plans to date, funding opportunities and plans to demolish the former hippodrome and bingo hall to make way for millions of pounds worth of investment. Councillor Harley said:

”These proposals are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make huge improvements to Dudley – including a university style campus which will bring in more people to Dudley and give students the best start in life.

“Add to that the developments in very light rail technology and the Midlands metro extension and the future is looking very bright for Dudley.

“Cabinet is being asked to consider detailed property and land negotiations which will continue the momentum in this work. That is a unique opportunity for us and something we must all continue at pace.”

Dudley Town’s Fund Board is seeking funding from central government’s Towns Fund to develop a new University style centre to meet the growing demand for higher skills in the region.

Dudley Council is helping spearhead the new University style facility which will be built at the foot of Castle Hill to add to the regeneration activities already in traction onsite. Very Light Rail and the Midland Metro extension are already underway.

The Towns Fund Board is seeking £25 million investment to create a learning centre, offering courses in health and life sciences. Technical programmes will be delivered at level 4 and 5 along with degree and post graduate qualifications. A process is currently underway to attract a university partner who will be responsible for the curriculum delivered from the site when the building is complete for the start of the 2023/24 academic year.

This new facility will be sited alongside the Black Country & Marches Institute of Technology which will open in autumn 2021 offering higher level qualifications in advanced manufacturing, modern construction methodologies and medical engineering.

Together these two buildings will create a “university park” in the town, nearby to existing sites belonging to Dudley College of Technology– thereby expanding Dudley’s Learning Quarter.

The “university park” developments will be on the site of the former Hippodrome building.

Council bosses met with campaigners working to save the dilapidated former bingo hall recently to outline the proposals which will see it demolished, having not had theatre shows since the 1960s and repeated failed attempts to raise money to save it. But during that meeting, strong assurances came from the leader of the council to work with the group to boost the night-time economy in the town as part of the ongoing regeneration work.

Cabinet members will consider the report and make any recommendations.

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