Express & Star

Fresh bid for Wolverhampton city centre Learning Quarter project

Council bosses in Wolverhampton have once again turned to ministers in the hope of securing funding for a new city centre Learning Quarter.

How the Learning Quarter will look.

Civic leaders have been trying to get Government cash for the ambitious project for more than a year and are hoping a fresh bid for £20 million will be successful.

Chiefs were left disappointed when a round of funding awarded earlier this year fell short of the £50m that had been hoped for.

The Learning Quarter is set to be built on the corner of Garrick Street and Bilston Street, on the site of the former Faces nightclub.

The purpose-built education facility will be set over 10,000sq m and will provide a state-of-the-art learning environment for young people and adults in the city and pave the way for Wolverhampton College to move from its outdated Paget Road site, which has been identified as land to build much-needed housing.

Council bosses said the Learning Quarter will generate and safeguard 750 jobs.

Its central location and close proximity to the new £150 million transport interchange will make it easily accessible.

Chiefs also say through energy efficient buildings and traffic reduction, more than 600 tonnes of CO2 emissions will be prevented from being released into the atmosphere each year.

The proposals, which have been in the pipeline for the last few years, have been supported by an initial £6.2 million investment from the council and Black Country LEP, which has enabled design work, site surveys and ground investigations, site acquisition and clearance to be completed.

Officials at the authority are now hoping ministers will come through with the bulk of the funding through its "levelling up fund".

Leader Ian Brookfield criticised the Government in March when it emerged Wolverhampton was being awarded £25m through the Towns Fund rather than £48m bid for.

A decision on funding is expected in the autumn.

Deputy leader and economy boss Stephen Simkins said: “The city Learning Quarter will have a visible and tangible impact on the Wolverhampton and its residents, making a massive difference to everyday life through direct investment in skills and education.

“We are working hard with Wolverhampton College to ensure we not only deliver a vibrant education hub where we improve the city’s learning, apprenticeship and employment offers, but also that we retain our best talent, rather than losing people to different parts of the region.

“The new facilities will provide a vital facelift as we re-imagine our city centre, which is benefiting from £1 billion of investment overall.

“The City Learning Quarter will be an inspirational environment for people to learn in and will offer excellent connectivity to rail, bus, tram and cycle.

“I have every confidence that when our plans become a reality, we will be creating an environment where everyone can flourish.

“It demonstrates the commitment this city has to investing in its citizens - not just buildings.”

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