Huddersfield is to have a “world class” new teaching and research campus that’s better than anything to be found at any other UK university.

That’s the bold claim of architect Robert Hopkins, a director of AHR Architects, the practice behind the design for the University of Huddersfield’s proposed £250 million National Health Innovation Campus.

The university is currently working on plans for the first building to be erected on the campus, on the site of the former Huddersfield Sports Centre in Southgate.

The new building – which will be one of the first a visitor sees as they come out of Huddersfield Railway Station – will be the £40 million Health & Wellbeing Academy.

The university already has a health and wellbeing academy, run by the School of Human and Health Sciences, which will move into the new building once it’s completed.

The campus already has outline planning permission and Mr Hopkins and the university’s deputy vice-chancellor Prof Tim Thornton went before a meeting of Kirklees Council’s Strategic Planning Committee to update councillors on the details.

Mr Hopkins said the new development would very much be part of the wider regeneration of the town centre and starting work on a prominent location on the corner of Leeds Road would show development was happening.

Health & Wellbeing Academy

“We are thinking very carefully about how we phase this,” said Mr Hopkins. “Developing along Leeds Road first feels like the town centre is developing. It means very early on the masterplan has great impact on the town.”

Huddersfield-based AHR also designed the award-winning Oastler and Barbara Hepworth buildings for the university and Mr Hopkins said this would be special too.

“We’ve been to every university in the country to look at their facilities and nothing comes close,” he said. “What is proposed here really is quite outstanding.

“And this is a community building as well as a university building. There’s podiatry clinics, physiotherapy clinics, gait analysis. All of you will be using this facility in the town centre and the other buildings that get developed on this site as well.

“It’s also a pioneering building. There’s a world class accreditation that’s been set up called WELL Building Standard that links the systems of the human body into architecture and the built environment.

“This is the first time a university in the UK is pushing for platinum standard. The number of platinum buildings in the UK you can count on the fingers of one hand.

“This is setting a world class standard for architecture and what we should expect for buildings of the future.”

Prof Thornton told councillors the health campus would be of huge benefit to the town and the wider Yorkshire region.

He said: “The first phase building will deliver innovation and jobs focusing research and knowledge transfer in fields like health tech.

“We are already the biggest provider of apprenticeships to the NHS in Yorkshire and the Humber and the new building allows us to continue growth in these routes to skilled jobs for local people.

“This will bring a dramatic boost in skills, innovation, health and wellbeing and jobs growth in the district.”

Councillors were supportive of the plans with committee chairman Clr Steve Hall describing the new building as “fantastic.”

The university aims to encourage students to move between the health campus and the main university site via the town centre and Northumberland Street rather than along Leeds Road from Shorehead roundabout.

Councillors Mohan Sokhal and Carole Pattison were concerned about the potential for students to go “jumping across the dual carriageway” and putting themselves and others in danger.

However, Iain Bath, the university’s planning advisor, said road improvement works were already underway and the university was working on a ‘movement study’ to encourage use of Northumberland Street.

Clr Paul Davies described the plans as “really exciting” and said creating connections or pathways through the town centre would boost footfall to ensure there were no “lost areas” as there are now.

The new campus will eventually have a 240-space multi-storey car park but the existing temporary car park created by the council will remain as long as possible.

Last August it was said that building work could start in May this year with the academy building opening in September 2024. No update was given on timescales.