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Willmott Dixon adds to ‘blue light’ track record with new £26m headquarters for West Yorkshire firefighters

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Willmott Dixon has been appointed for its latest scheme for the emergency services, a transformational headquarters, training centre and new fire station for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS).

Procured via the SCAPE framework, the company has moved onto a site in Birkenshaw, south east of Bradford, to demolish the existing buildings which will make way for the urban search and rescue training centre that will take firefighter learning into the 21st century when open in 2024.

The project forms part of wider modernisation plans for West Yorkshire fire stations, which will enable the service to deliver its vision to keep West Yorkshire people and communities safe. The old headquarters – currently based in the on-site Grade II listed Oakroyd Hall - will be sold once the new build is complete.

We are proud to have collaborated with Willmott Dixon to accelerate this project forward. At SCAPE, we strongly believe that every project should create a strong, sustainable legacy for the community and the delivery of these headquarters is a prime example of how this can be achieved, whether that be through creating jobs for local people or prioritising net zero initiatives.

Mark Robinson, group chief executive at SCAPE

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Nick Smith, who is leading the building programme for WYFRS, said: “Seeing the old buildings coming down and so quickly has made this transformation real to us all now.

“Discussions to build a new headquarters has been on the cards for well over a decade, so it is great to see this finally taking shape. This is an integral part of our aim to be a modern, efficient, and effective fire service, keep our communities safe.

“The Birkenshaw site redevelopment is part of a wider estates strategy to ensure all our stations across the region are modern and fit for purpose now and well into the future.”

He added the modernisation and transformation of the service is part of national framework to ensure all fire services are fit for the future.

Less than half of the overall spend is for the headquarters building, with the rest divided between the training centre, new fire station and to ensure the site is net zero in terms of its carbon footprint.

The green site will generate 50,000kWh of sustainable energy per year through solar panels and will reduce carbon consumption through heat pumps, hybrid ventilation and efficient building materials.

As part of its commitment to the local economy, Willmott Dixon has already created local jobs and training opportunities at the site and is on track to start building the new three-storey complex early next year.

Chris Yates, Yorkshire director for Willmott Dixon, said: “We are pleased to be working in partnership with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to support the modernisation of its estate, delivering a state-of-the-art environment for those who work around the clock to keep us all safe.

“This really will be a project delivered for local people by local people. To date, 44 per cent of our project spend has been invested with local businesses based within 10 miles of the development and we’ll deliver 24 weeks of apprenticeships and 465 hours of support for help get under 24-year-olds into work.

“We are also proud to support the customer’s net zero ambitions, which are critical to the success of our own 2030 ‘Now or Never’ sustainability strategy. By the end of 2030 all our new buildings and major refurbishments will achieve net zero operational carbon.”