WORK starts today on the latest huge development at the University of Huddersfield.

And the £11.5m project is a tribute to the ingenuity of modern architects and builders – AND to their Victorian forbears.

Work has begun on the creation of the highly-innovative Enterprise and Innovation Centre (EIC)in Firth Street, which has received massive financial backing from the EU-funded European Regional Development Fund.

When open for business next year, the centre will boost the local and regional economy by enabling innovative entrepreneurs, ambitious small companies and large, established firms to forge ever closer links with the University of Huddersfield’s research expertise and state-of-the-art technical facilities.

The centre is being created by adapting, extending and adding an extra storey to a building known as Larchfield.

In recent years it has been used as teaching and research premises by the University of Huddersfield – until it was replaced last year by an all-new £17m Business School.

But Larchfield began life more than 100 years ago as industrial premises.

It was so solidly built that EIC contractors GB Solutions, of Wakefield, will be able to remove its roof and add an extra storey without any major structural alterations.

“There aren’t many structural problems at all,” said the University of Huddersfield’s deputy director of estates and facilities, Alan Johnson, who will be on site almost daily to monitor the progress of the project.

“We will need to beef up the structure a little bit, adding a few more columns, but basically the original structure is man enough to take it!

“Those Victorians built well!”

Designed by architects DLA – also based in Wakefield – the new centre is scheduled to be completed by May.

Funding for the ambitious project, which is the brainchild of the University’s director of research and enterprise, Dr Liz Towns-Andrews, includes an injection of £6.4m from the European Regional Development Fund.

Kirklees Council is also a major backer of the scheme, providing £1.3m.

The University of Huddersfield’s own contribution is £3.8m.