City of Wolverhampton’s plans to develop a National Brownfield Institute (NBI) have been handed a major boost.

The scheme is to receive £14.9 million of funding from the Government’s Get Building Fund for the West Midlands which is aimed at projects that can be started quickly and completed within 18 months, create jobs and generate investment to aid the economic recovery from Covid-19.

The city council has worked closely with the Black Country LEP and West Midlands Combined Authority to secure the funding for what will be the flagship of the University of Wolverhampton’s ongoing £100 million Springfield Campus development.

The new £17.5 million NBI will research and develop new construction methods and ways of regenerating contaminated land.

The council is now working with the University on plans and final evaluations, with a view to works starting on site later this year. A request for the remainder of the funding required forms part of the city’s bid to the Government’s Towns Fund.

The 12-acre Springfield Campus is already home to the Thomas Telford University Technical College, Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills and the School of Architecture and the Built Environment. 

These facilities combined with the NBI will lay the foundation for the delivery of a National Centre for Sustainable Construction and Circular Economy, which will focus on sustainability and the climate change emergency.

The NBI will be a world-class institute that provides the facility to develop advanced skills, technologies and methodologies through innovation and partnership with the construction industry; focuses on the practical application of future brownfield regeneration through the work of research teams; and leads policy development, research and innovation, and commercial services for brownfield regeneration.

It will secure the City of Wolverhampton's position as a leader internationally in sustainable construction, circular economy and brownfield development and will deliver new skills, jobs and opportunities for local people in the city, which has been hard hit by the pandemic. 

Councillor Ian Brookfield, City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, said: “This funding will help us accelerate this game changing scheme for the city.

“We have seen the University’s Springfield Campus blossom into the reality of a European leading Built Environment education campus.

“Now the addition of the National Brownfield Institute will make Wolverhampton a world leader in construction, regeneration and built environment, offering teaching and skills development, cutting edge research and innovation, and enterprise and business engagement through multi-sector partnerships.

“Most importantly it will deliver new skills, jobs and opportunities for local people in the city.

“It is all part of more the multi-billion pound investment on site or planned in our city – a city of opportunity – as we look to bounce back from the impact of Covid-19.”

Professor Geoff Layer, Vice Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton, added: “This funding boost comes just at the right time for Wolverhampton and the West Midlands following the challenges created by the pandemic and it’s particularly encouraging to see that the government recognises the importance of significantly investing in the region.
“The National Brownfield Institute will be integral to the way we look at land remediation and regeneration across the Black Country and the UK and will play a pivotal part in unlocking industrial land to help tackle the housing shortage in our towns and cities.
“Home to state of the art research facilities, the Institute will complement the site and vision for Springfield as a hub for excellence in construction and the built environment on both a national and international scale.”

Tom Westley DL, Chair of the Black Country LEP Board said: “This investment from Government will see a boost to the whole West Midlands economy. Here in the Black Country we are ready to go with the National Brownfield Land Institute with timescales in place to ensure quick delivery.  

“It will create jobs, see investment in business and support skills development across the area as well as provide an opportunity to showcase the innovative skills already here in the Black Country. We look forward to working with all our partners to see the full range of projects take shape as we continue to drive economic growth locally and regionally.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the WMCA, added: “At a difficult time for the West Midlands’ economy brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, it is great to see the Government putting further cash on the table to help aid our recovery. 

“This £66 million from the Getting Building Fund will go towards exciting, shovel ready, projects across the region that will make an immediate difference by helping to create and secure local jobs for local people. In the Black Country we are doing all we can to protect the greenbelt by remediating derelict brownfield industrial land ready for development. We have seen great success in this area, and the National Brownfield Institute in Wolverhampton will help take that work to the next level and propel the city and the wider region onto the global construction stage.”