Construction on Wolverhampton's £50m City Learning Quarter to start next year

Construction of Wolverhampton's new £50 million "learning quarter" in the city centre will start in spring next year after a construction firm was chosen, chiefs have said.

City Learning Quarter. Photo: Wolverhampton Council
City Learning Quarter. Photo: Wolverhampton Council

McLaughlin & Harvey has been awarded a pre-construction contract and will develop the detailed designs – and carry out some minor preparatory on the major scheme.

And then construction will start up in spring next year, with the City Learning Quarter taking shape around the Old Hall Street and St George's Parade area of the city centre.

It will incorporate a site on the corner of Garrick Street and Bilston Street where the former Faces nightclub building once stood, adjacent to the West Midlands Metro stop.

Councillor Ian Brookfield, leader of Wolverhampton Council, said: "The appointment of our preferred construction partner now brings us within touching distance of being able to start works on this game-changing scheme – 2023 is going to be a huge year for the City Learning Quarter.

“A lot of hard work has been put in by council and college representatives, supported by our local MPs and West Midlands Combined Authority, to secure vital funding and get us to the point where we can make our vision a reality.

“The City Learning Quarter will have a visible and tangible impact on the City of Wolverhampton and its residents, making a massive difference to everyday life through direct investment in skills and education.

"We are working hard with City of Wolverhampton College to ensure we not only deliver a vibrant education hub where we improve the city’s learning, apprenticeship and employment offers, but also that we retain our best talent, rather than losing people to different parts of the region.

"The new facilities will provide a vital facelift as we re-imagine our city centre, which is benefitting from £1 billion of investment overall. The City Learning Quarter will be an inspirational environment for people to learn in and will offer excellent connectivity to rail, bus, tram and cycle.

"We will be creating an environment where everyone can flourish and it demonstrates the commitment this city has to investing in its citizens."

The project has been backed by a £6.2m investment from the authority and the Black Country LEP which enabled design work, site surveys and ground investigations, site acquisition and clearance to be completed.

The council has also secured £5million from the Towns Fund, £20m from the Levelling Up Fund and a further £20m from the Department for Education for the "state-of-the-art" facility.

The City Learning Quarter will be set over 10,000 square metres and will encompass Wolverhampton College's Metro One Campus, the authority's Adult Education Service and Central Library – and will see the college move from its outdated Paget Road site which has been earmarked for homes.

Chiefs believe in addition to the new facilities providing educational benefits for the city, the City Learning Quarter will generate and safeguard 750 jobs in the local economy – and 45,000 people will benefit from learning there over 10 years, alongside 7,500 apprenticeships being started.

City of Wolverhampton College forecasts that over a 10-year period approximately 45,000 people will benefit from learning at the City Learning Quarter and around 7,500 apprenticeships will be started.

Mal Cowgill, principal and chief executive at City of Wolverhampton College, added: “We are delighted to announce that McLaughlin & Harvey has been identified as the preferred Design and Build Contractor for the City Learning Quarter project and they are already working with the Council and the College to refine the designs.”

The construction firm has previously worked on high-profile schemes such as the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham, Coventry University Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Oxford Brookes Clerici Building.

Michael Kieran, McLaughlin & Harvey Construction Director, said, “We are delighted to have been appointed as City of Wolverhampton Council’s construction partner for their City Learning Quarter project. We have recently completed Darroch House, Edinburgh and UKAEA Material Research Facility. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the Council on the design and preparatory works.”

It is calculated that through energy efficient buildings and traffic reduction, more than 600 tonnes of CO2 emissions will be prevented from being released into the atmosphere each year.  It is also estimated the air will be cleaner due to 310kg of NOX particles not being discharged into the city.

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