£14m restoration transforms historic building into skills centre

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Kirklees College has announced the November opening of the Pioneer Higher Skills Centre in Dewsbury, a new learning facility dedicated to higher skills and higher education.

The opening of the specialist centre marks a key milestone in the Dewsbury Blueprint, a ten-year plan that aims to make Dewsbury town centre a safe, attractive, family friendly place to live, work, visit or learn.

The specialist centre has been designed to increase the skills of local people by supporting them to gain qualifications, work skills and enhance their career prospects.

Restoration and regeneration project of the former Co-operative building has been funded by Kirklees Council together with Kirklees College with further contributions from the Leeds City Region Growth Deal, delivered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and the Leeds LEP, The Heritage Lottery Fund and The Dewsbury Townscape Heritage Initiative.

The historic, three-floor Victorian Grade II Listed building has been transformed into a state-of-the-art facility as part of a £14m restoration project, with many heritage features maintained.

In addition to the new art workshops, fashion and textiles studio, science labs, classrooms and IT suites, there is an extensive Learning Resource Centre to support learners in their studies.

It also boasts a hair and beauty salon, café, Starbucks coffee shop and dedicated social spaces.

The Pioneer Higher Skills Centre will offer vocational courses to provide learners with hands-on experience in their chosen career path.

Phillipa Firth, assistant principal for adults and higher education, said: “We are very excited to be delivering our Higher Education programmes from the newly restored Pioneer Higher Skills Centre.

“We hope that this specialist centre will be a welcome addition to the local area and provide the people of Dewsbury and beyond with the opportunity to learn a new skill or start a new career at Kirklees College.”

Councillor Peter McBride, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for regeneration, added: “It’s wonderful to see Pioneer House has been injected with new life.

“The regeneration of this superb, historic building is just one element of our Blueprint for Dewsbury, to honour the heritage and bring more activity to the town centre.

“The facilities offered at the Pioneer Higher Skills Centre will attract staff and students into the heart of Dewsbury, adding to the vibrancy of the area and boosting town centre businesses too.”