Wolverhampton’s ambitious City Learning Quarter vision has reached a major milestone with the Council appointing its preferred construction partner for the new city centre campus.
McLaughlin & Harvey has been awarded a pre-construction contract and will now develop the detailed designs and carry out some minor preparatory works ahead of construction starting in spring.
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.
The City Learning Quarter scheme has been developed by the Council in partnership with City of Wolverhampton College and will deliver a purpose-built learning facility for young people and adults at the heart of the city centre to drive up skills levels.
City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, 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 benefiting 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.”
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.”
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.”
The exciting proposals were initially supported by a £6.2 million investment from the Council and Black Country LEP, which has 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, £20million from the Levelling Up Fund and a further £20million from the Department for Education.
The City Learning Quarter will be situated around the Old Hall Street and St. George’s Parade area of the city centre, incorporating a site on the corner of Garrick Street and Bilston Street, where the former Faces nightclub building once stood.
The state-of-the-art education facility will be set over 10,000 square metres and will also see investment in the building and public realm around them. It will encompass City of Wolverhampton College’s Metro One Campus, the council’s Adult Education Service and Central Library, creating an enhanced learning environment for everyone as well as significantly paving 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 that our air will be cleaner due to 310kg of NOX particles not being discharged into the city.