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£30 million university centre plan for Dudley

By Pete Madeley | Dudley | News | Published:

Dudley could be set to have a university centre for the first time in its history, under proposals revealed today.

Dudley College has released images of the proposed university centre, including the IoT building

Plans have been drawn up by Dudley College for a new £30 million centre off Tipton Road.

It will feature two main buildings, including a Digital and Transportation Technologies campus. They will cater for 2,000 students a year with courses centring around digital health management and transport technologies.

College bosses are set to bid for cash for the project from the Government's £1.6bn Stronger Towns Fund, which is aimed at helping neglected areas of the country.

They see the university centre as "the final piece of the jigsaw" when it comes to revitalising Dudley's fortunes.

College principal Neil Thomas, Mike Wood MP, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire and Ian Austin MP at the site

It will form part of a sprawling site running between Castle Hill and the Black Country Living Museum that will feature a number of facilities aimed at advanced level training for hi-tech jobs.

They include the £32m Institute of Transformational Technologies, which is due to open in September 2021, an Autonomous Vehicle Hub at the site of the Hippodrome, and the Very Light Rail Innovation Centre.

'Getting back to the Dudley of old'

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Dudley College principal Neil Thomas, said: "We have drawn up initial proposals for the centre and have been invited to formally apply for funding within the next three months.

"It's very early days, but we believe this could be the final piece of the jigsaw in terms of the regeneration of this area of the town.

"While skills and development are key, it is about more than that. We want to increase footfall into the town centre and the impact on our night time economy could be profound.

The scheme is part of plans to invest in hi-tech industries

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"This is about highly skilled people studying, working and living in Dudley. It is getting back to the Dudley of old."

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire visited the site in the past week. He praised Dudley's "fantastic ambition" and said: "It's really good to see there is a sense of purpose to raise opportunities for people in this area.

"I want to see all of our country flourishing, especially the parts where perhaps people do feel a bit left behind... places where some of that growth and prosperity and opportunity has not been felt in the same way.

"We should be ambitious for areas like Dudley, we should be positive.

"It is about communities like this having that sense of drive and determination, which I get here."

'Big ambitions'

The scheme, which was first mooted in 2017, has been backed by Dudley Council and town MPs Ian Austin and Mike Wood.

Dudley North MP Mr Austin said: "We have got big ambitions for Dudley. We lit the spark that fired the industrial revolution, and I want us to do just as well in the new industrial revolution.

"In the past we have struggled to attract new investment and new jobs to replace the ones we have lost. This is about investment in hi-tech industries, modern manufacturing, digital media, all those industries that will create tens of thousands of well paid jobs in the future.

"We want to make sure we get our fair share of them here in Dudley. We want to capitalise on these challenges so we don't miss out again."

Mr Wood, the Conservative MP for Dudley South, said: "This could be absolutely massive for the borough. People have spoken about the skills gap in the Black Country. This is about doing something about closing that gap, and making sure that our part of the Black Country really enjoys our fair share of growth.

"These jobs that we are looking to create are building on traditional Black Country strengths, but with a 21st century focus. We need to make sure our traditional strengths can be brought forward in the cutting edge jobs of the future.

"It will make a huge difference to young people's aspirations, which is worth far more than just bricks and mortar."

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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