So you've not heard of the Student Quarter? Neither had I! It's one of the positive developments revealed at your local Dewsbury & Mirfield District Committee meeting last Thursday.
But first a quick reminder that there's a Public Meeting of The Dewsbury Partnership this Friday, 8th July. Check this link for all the details on the public meeting.
Now back to the good news - on a number of fronts including Pioneer House, the new Kirklees College building that together will comprise the Student Quarter and other refurbishment works in Dewsbury town centre - as well as some strategic positioning with Leeds and the Northern Powerhouse.
What's coming up then? Firstly, work is likely to start shortly on the conversion of Pioneer House for use by 1,000 19 years-to-adult students of Kirklees College ready for opening in mid 2018.
The visual appearance of the old Victorian shop fronts will be retained although, internally, the building will be entirely occupied by the College.
A similar approach was taken in Wakefield where the old shop fronts of the Unity Works building were retained.
The new building for 1,600 students in the 16-18 year age group on the old Safeway site will open even earlier, in late 2017. This is a modern building and therefore easier and quicker to erect. From the artists impression shown on Thursday it looks like a distinctive piece of architecture.
Taken together the two buildings will constitute a new Student Quarter to the town. The influx of a large number of students on a daily basis is likely to transform activity around Northgate. Questions about the large number of additional pedestrians and the inevitable question of car parking will be addressed as the planning process continues.
More positive developments,
The Townscape Heritage Initiative which is funded for 5 years, 2013-2018, is expecting to start work on the next phase of its project to refurbish and maintain the original Victorian appearance of shop fronts in Corporation Street in July.
And work on the conversion of Northgate House next to Pioneer House into 6 residential flats and street front retail premises, again in the original style, is expected to start in mid August.
Learning from past experience, the council is also addressing the question of retailers making the most of their improved shop windows and Visual Retail training is being made available.
With Pioneer House expected to be opening in 2018 it looks like we might expect a major improvement in the appearance and activity of the Northgate end of town in the next couple of years.
Much of the improved development situation is due to the discussions that have taken place between Kirklees and the Leeds City region and Leeds Enterprise Partnership. The outcome is that North Kirklees is now being treated as part of the Leeds City region and is included in the Leeds Strategic Economic Plan. Dewsbury, in particular, is identified as a priority area.
The absence of such a connection was highlighted in the North Kirklees Growth Zone strategy document published last November and it is good to see that this particular circle has been squared. The importance of this developments cannot be overemphasised as the Leeds region is the Yorkshire end of the Northern Powerhouse and all the strategic development planning and money that will flow from that.
This summary of good news for Dewsbury came from the briefing given by Stephen Jagger and Andrew Jackson to the Dewsbury & Mirfield District Committee last Thursday evening.
Some images courtesy of Google Streetview