£20 million of Government funding secured for Wolverhampton Learning Quarter plans

Plans to build a modern learning quarter in the heart of Wolverhampton have taken a major step forward after £20 million of Government cash was secured.

How the Learning Quarter will look.
How the Learning Quarter will look.

Skills minister Alex Burghart signed off on the city's bid for the much-needed cash for the project to be built on and around the site of the former Faces nightclub.

It comes after criticism was levelled at the Government over the city being awarded £25m through the Towns Fund bid last year – rather than the £48m bid for.

But now the cash boost will see the project progress, with Wolverhampton College set to move from its Paget Road site into a state-of-the-art new campus.

The City Learning Quarter overall will encompass the college's Metro One campus, the council's Adult Education Service and Central Library situated nearby.

Councillor Ian Brookfield, leader of Wolverhampton Council, said: “I am delighted we have secured the final piece in the jigsaw of our funding package to enable the council and college to deliver this vital scheme for the city.

"A lot of hard work has been put in by council and college representatives, supported by our local MPs and West Midlands Combined Authority, to make an overwhelming case to Government, which has now responded to our requests.

"The City Learning Quarter will have a visible and tangible impact on the city of Wolverhampton and its residents, making a massive difference to everyday life through direct investment in skills and education.

"We are working hard with City of 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 benefitting 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.

"We can now make our plans a reality and 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."

The plans were initially supported by a £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.

The council has also secured £5million from the Towns Fund and £20 million from the Levelling Up Fund, with the new £20m cash injection meaning the funding is in place to deliver the project – with work under way on the procurement process to secure a construction partner.

Wolverhampton South West MP Stuart Anderson, who helped champion the bid, said: "The City Learning Quarter is an integral part of our vision to create a better future for all our residents – with the skills and opportunities needed to help them unlock their full potential.

"I am delighted that the Government has provided an extra £20 million to help us realise our city’s ambitions.

"This cash boost demonstrates the Government’s commitment to Levelling Up in action. When opened, the City Learning Quarter will offer state-of-the-art learning facilities to local people and enrich the local economy, with many jobs supported.”

The quarter, situated around the Old Hall Street and St George's Parade area of the city, will incorporate the college site on the corner of Garrick Street and Bilston Street. It will be set over 10,000sq metres – and the overall project is expected to be completed by September 2024.

Wolverhampton College chiefs forecast approximately 45,000 people will benefit from learning at the City Learning Quarter and around 7,500 apprenticeships will be started. Meanwhile, it is expected the move will generate and safeguard 750 jobs in the local community.

The college's Paget Road campus is expected to be sold off four housing once the new facility is built.

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