People are being given the opportunity to help shape £25million regeneration blueprints for a major gateway into Dudley as a £6million bid goes in to accelerate the project.
The Dudley Towns Fund Board and Dudley Council are working together on the regeneration plans for the Castle Hill area.
Government funding is in the pipeline to develop Dudley Zoo and Castle, create a new ‘university’ complex with Dudley College and improve public open spaces in the town centre.
At the same time people are being given the opportunity to have their say in the plans – the latest scheme to get underway as part of a £1billion masterplan.
Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said:
"It is vital we get the views of local people to make sure we have a development that people have helped to shape.
"We want to hear what people think about the proposals to enhance the tourism offer at the zoo and castle, the new university park and the public spaces in the town. It’s important all these things happen with people at the heart of them.
"The regeneration that is taking place in Dudley will see some of the biggest changes in the town in a generation – people are very much a part of that."
Andrew Lovett, Chair of the Towns Fund Board added:
"The council has ambitious plans for the transformation of the borough and this is just one of the key developments that will increase footfall into the town whilst developing educational opportunities and strengthening tourism. The Towns Fund will help level up the country, creating jobs and building stronger and more resilient local economies, in the areas that most need inward investment."
Dudley’s scheme includes a ‘university’ style campus led by Dudley College and will provide higher education courses for the health sector. The new facility is expected to be up and running by Autumn of 2023.
The college agreed to work alongside the council to develop the new facility, after building up a degree of expertise through the development of the Dudley Learning Quarter. The teaching and learning that will take place will be driven by the University of Worcester."
Neil Thomas, Chief Executive and Principal of Dudley College of Technology, said:
"The college is delighted to be supporting this development as we very much see it complementing the Black Country & Marches Institute of Technology which will also be on the site. Together these facilities will provide access to first-class higher level education, that will mean Dudley residents will be better placed to develop their careers right on their doorstep."
There are planned repairs to the Tecton structures at Dudley Zoo as well as improvements to the elephant house, bird house and Queen Mary ballroom. There are also plans for a training and education complex.
Derek Grove, Director of Dudley Zoo & Castle, said:
"We are delighted that funding has been secured to develop the repair proposals for four of our iconic Tecton structures and also to deliver key surveys required to understand the full extent of the conservation work required to restore Dudley Castle and to help prioritise the repair schedule.
"Whilst the ongoing transformation of the base of Castle Hill from a derelict freightliner depot into a hub of innovation and education centres is inspirational, it remains imperative that funding delivers growth and tangible benefits for the local community.
"In conjunction with proposals for a university complex and improvements to the public realm, we continue to work with the towns fund board and Dudley Council to secure further resources to deliver the remainder of the heritage projects initially developed in the Castle Hill vision. Highlighted within these proposals, the visitor and education amenity aims to deliver an immersive learning experience that will maximise the potential presented by the combination of a zoo, castle and underground mine workings."
It is the latest scheme to be announced as part of the £1billion regeneration programme which also includes the metro extension, very light rail and a new transport interchange.