By Tony Earnshaw
The University of Huddersfield is to take its proposals for a new health and wellbeing academy in the town to Kirklees Council’s Strategic Planning Committee so that members can have a preview of what is being outlined.
The “landmark development”, which includes classrooms, laboratories and a multi-storey car park, is to be built on the site of the former sports centre and will see seven buildings occupying a 6.6-acre plot off Southgate, Leeds Road and Old Leeds Road. Phase one of the university’s plan involves a fifth of the overall site.
A report to next week’s committee on 9 June says the building’s design would be contemporary and involve a split level comprised of four-storey and seven-storey sections.
The four-storey section would be predominantly faced in natural stone with the seven-storey section in bronze-coloured metal cladding with large glazing panels throughout.
The building would include a mezzanine level and several tiered roofs as well as roof terrace/terrace garden areas. Solar panels are indicatively shown on the roofs.
The committee will be able to ask questions about the role and function of the building, its design, height and appearance, landscaping and other external works, and access and connectivity to the town centre and the main university campus.
There was unanimous cross-party support for the £40m facility when it came before the planning committee last August. It was described as being “highly significant” for both the university and the town.
The buildings making up the national research campus for the university’s School of Health and Human Sciences will house the health and wellbeing academy as well as research and specialist clinical teaching facilities, and various clinics devoted to podiatry, sports and physiotherapy, parents and children, and mental health.
Specialist learning facilities include:
- Mock operating theatre.
- Mock ambulance (aka “simbulance”).
- A mock community flat/dwelling, to replicate visiting patients at home,
with an external area.
- A functional podiatry and orthotics clinic, which would be open to
members of the public.
At that point, building work was anticipated to begin in May 2022 with the first facility completed by September 2024.
There are no plans at present to remove the temporary 166-space car park occupying part of the site off Pine Street, though that will eventually be replaced by a multi-storey.
Nearby Crown House, a 1970s office block, is earmarked to be turned into 85 flats. However, that is separate from the university plan and does not form part of the academy proposals.
A public representation period – for people to send in their comments – ends on 12 June. When the scheme came before the committee last summer the university’s planning advisor, Ian Bath, said: “This application and your decision this afternoon represents the start of a very important journey to deliver health, research and innovation for Huddersfield over the next decade.”