Council appoints preferred contractor for Library and Adult Education City Learning Quarter works

(L-R): City of Wolverhampton College Deputy Chief Executive, Peter Merry, new Mayor of the West Midlands, Richard Parker, and City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Simkins, at the site where the new £61m Ci

City of Wolverhampton Council has appointed its preferred contractor to deliver major works on the city centre’s Central Library and Adult Education Wolverhampton facilities as part of the £61 million-Phase Two City Learning Quarter development.

Speller Metcalfe has been awarded the pre-construction contract and will now develop the detailed designs and carry out some enabling works ahead of the main contract and full works starting in the autumn.

The Central Library plans include the restoration of the Grade II*-listed building’s façade on Snow Hill, a new roof, internal remodelling, new rear entrance lobby and landscaping.

Adult Education Wolverhampton’s Alan Garner Centre on Old Hall Street will also undergo internal remodelling and the construction of a two-storey glazed link building to connect it directly to Central Library’s 1930s extension.

This will create a modernised, reconfigured and accessible, digitally enabled Central Library and an expanded centralised Adult Education provision that meets post-16 learner and employer demands.

The improved Central Library and Adult Education Wolverhampton facilities will sit alongside a new state-of-the-art education facility for City of Wolverhampton College currently being constructed by McLaughlin & Harvey on the site of the college’s former Metro One campus and land on the corner of Garrick Street and Bilston Street, where the Faces nightclub building once stood.

Central Library and Adult Education Wolverhampton will continue to operate throughout the duration of the works, which are expected to be completed in autumn 2025.

The Council’s Cabinet Member for City Development, Jobs and Skills, Councillor Chris Burden, said: “The restoration and improvement works to our historic Central Library and Adult Education building are an important part of our City Learning Quarter vision to co-locate new state-of-the-art facilities in the city centre and improve life chances for people of all ages.

“We want to deliver a vibrant education hub where we improve the city’s learning, apprenticeship and employment offers, and retain our best talent, rather than losing people to different parts of the region.

“The new facilities will also provide a vital facelift to our city centre and restore one of our much-loved heritage buildings, as well as offer excellent connectivity to rail, bus, tram and cycle routes.

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

Ninder Johal, Chair of Wolverhampton’s City Investment Board, said: “The City Learning Quarter scheme is now progressing at pace and we can soon look forward to works starting on major improvements to the Library and Adult Education facilities.

“It is part of a masterplan that is going to deliver an outstanding education and skills offer not only for the people of Wolverhampton but the wider region.”

Speller Metcalfe is also working on Phase One of the City Learning Quarter masterplan - a new £8.1 million Advanced Technology and Automotive Centre at City of Wolverhampton College’s Wellington Road campus in Bilston - which is on track to be completed this summer and is being funded by West Midlands Combined Authority.

Matthew Bailey, Director at Speller Metcalfe, said: “We’re delighted to be working with City of Wolverhampton Council on another phase of works for the City Learning Quarter. The Advance Technology and Automotive Centre project has been a success and we look forward to carrying this success through to the next project. Restoring heritage and listed buildings is the bread and butter of our team and we're pleased to have been appointed for this scheme."

 

The exciting City Learning Quarter Phase Two development was initially supported by investment from the council with further funding coming through a combination of £5 million from the Towns Fund, £22 million from the Levelling Up Fund and £22 million from the Department for Education, plus additional government grants and contributions from the college and council.

It will pave the way for City of Wolverhampton College to move from its out-dated Paget Road site, which has been identified as land to build much-needed housing.

The 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.

Its central location and close proximity to the new £150 million transport interchange will make it easily accessible. It will also boast environmental benefits in line with council’s climate emergency agenda.

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