Councillors have given the go-ahead for Huddersfield to be at the heart of a drive to help tackle health inequalities in the North.
Kirklees Council’s Strategic Planning Committee gave unanimous backing to plans by the University of Huddersfield to build a £250 million National Health Innovation Campus on the site of the former Huddersfield Sports Centre.
The site in Southgate has been split into seven plots with the “landmark” building – the £40 million Health & Wellbeing Academy – on the corner of Southgate and Leeds Road facing towards Huddersfield Railway Station.
Councillors agreed an outline application and delegated approval of the details and conditions to the head of planning.
There is little information about the other buildings though, the meeting was told, none of them would go above eight storeys in height, meaning they would be lower than the nearby 11-storey Crown House.
A 240-space multi-storey car park will also be built behind Crown House and the university has agreed to pay £23,000 to upgrade a bus stop in Leeds Road to include a shelter and real-time travel information.
Speaking at the meeting Iain Bath, the university’s planning advisor, said: “This application proposal is highly significant for both the university and Huddersfield and will assist us in our commitment to help end health inequality in our region and beyond.
“This site is to be developed as a National Health Innovation Campus including, as a first phase building, a 10,000 sq metre Health & Wellbeing Academy.
“The campus will also include world leading research facilities, specialist clinical teaching facilities, an award-winning podiatry clinic, a THRIVE tele-health service, sports and physio clinics, parent and child clinics, mental health clinics and public-facing space dedicated to social sciences.
“The campus will enable rapid expansion in fields such as nursing, midwifery, allied health and human sciences and will facilitate partnerships.”
He added: “The university have run a design competition earlier this year for the first phase Health & Wellbeing Academy and a reserved matters application is currently being worked up for submission in the next month or so.
“Huddersfield architects AHR have been appointed to lead the design of this new building and to act as the university’s master planners.”
Construction work is scheduled to start in May next year with completion of the academy building in September 2024. The university is currently in discussions with other parties over further phases.
Mr Bath added: “This application represents the start of a very important journey to deliver health research and innovation for Huddersfield over the next decade.”
Councillors spoke in support of the plans with Clr Carole Pattison (Lab, Greenhead) saying the university had previously provided “some wonderful buildings” while Clr Donna Bellamy (Con, Colne Valley) expected the buildings to be “innovative and modern.”
Committee chairman Clr Steve Hall (Lab, Heckmondwike) said: “There is a long way to go but the design of some of the buildings at Huddersfield University are superb especially the big one on the Ring Road which really sets Huddersfield off.
“I am looking forward to this to see what we get.”