An £18.5M investment into Dewsbury Town Centre is about to get started and will breathe new life into one of Dewsbury’s most important heritage landmarks at Pioneer House.
Pioneer House has received £11.1m investment through the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Fund – a £1 billion package of government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region. Thanks to this funding from the LEP together with the Council’s investment, the former Dewsbury Pioneers Co-Operative building will soon be transformed into a new campus for Kirklees College.
Stakeholders had the opportunity to look around the building and learn more about its rich history before work begins to return it to its former glory. In its glory days Pioneer House was home to an impressive ballroom/cinema, banking hall and luxurious shops. It still remains an impressive building with a scale befitting of its former and future use of bringing people together with a common goal of supporting local people.
After being acquired by the council in 2011, the council invested in it to make it safe and secure as well as wind and watertight in 2013. Pioneer House currently has no utilities or services and is essentially an empty shell awaiting transformation. Now that there is a shared vision for the building, the internal works can begin to further prepare the building for its future use, so that it will last for generations to come.
The start of this work is a key milestone in the wider North Kirklees Growth Zone, which aims to transform Dewsbury and the surrounding towns, by creating opportunities for local people to develop the skills that will enable them to secure sustainable jobs. It also ensures that are more and better homes that are well connected to the employment opportunities – that will be available as a result of this and other investments.
The redevelopment of Pioneer House, is also the ‘critical project’ of the Dewsbury Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), a £3.7m regeneration programme which is jointly funded by Kirklees Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and is a clear indication of the council’s ambition to transform Dewsbury.
The development of Dewsbury Learning Quarter; Pioneer Centre and the colleges second new site across the ring road at the old Safeway site (Springfield Centre), will provide young people with quality skills to compete for the high-quality jobs that will be on offer in the future. It will also bring 2500 students closer to the town centre, providing town centre businesses with increased footfall on a daily basis.
There are a number of partners involved with the site including the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, LEP, Heritage Lottery Fund, Kirklees Council, Kirklees College and the contractor Heritage Building and Conservation.
Cllr Peter McBride Cabinet Member for Place said: “Bringing Pioneer House back into use as a college for the further education of our local young people feels fitting. This is a building that was developed to deliver the Dewsbury Pioneers idealism and vision of a better social order. Like with the original co-operative the success of the scheme is dependent on partners working together and this site meeting was a great way for us to acknowledge that and get a sense of the work that has to take place.
Our aim is to redevelop the building so that it is fit for future generations to use for many years to come. We will also look to maintain some of the rich history of the buildings past. I believe that this work marks the start of a new period of regeneration for North Kirklees and the opportunity for renewed growth and prosperity.”
Kirklees College vice principal Melanie Brooke said: “We are excited by the prospect of being at the heart of the transformation plans for Dewsbury.
“The £18.5m investment in education facilities through the development of Dewsbury Learning Quarter 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.
“It will 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.”
Roger Marsh, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership said: “Ensuring that training provision and facilities meet the current and future needs of businesses, individuals and the wider economy is a key part of our Employment and Skills Plan.
“I’m delighted that our Growth Deal funding is helping to transform North Kirklees by converting an iconic building into a new college campus, as part of the wider regeneration programme for the area. Our investment will provide high-quality education facilities that meet the skills needs of learners and employers, boosting jobs and growth in the region.”
The Leeds City Region Growth Deal is a £1 billion-plus deal between the LEP and government to help transform the Leeds City Region economy. The Growth Deal is being delivered jointly by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to boost jobs and growth across the whole of Leeds City Region.