The City of Wolverhampton Council has secured the main contract with its chosen constructor to ensure the new City Learning Quarter city centre site is completed for the start of the 2025/26 academic year.

The £61 million scheme remains a key priority and will establish transformational facilities for the City of Wolverhampton College, Adult Education Wolverhampton and Central Library, benefitting skills and employment outcomes for residents across the city and wider region.

The council and college have been progressing final design work with McLaughlin & Harvey under a pre-construction agreement, and site preparation, service diversion and infrastructure works have previously been undertaken.

The main contract paves the way for the construction firm, which has previously worked on high profile schemes such as the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, Coventry University Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Oxford Brookes Building, to mobilise on the city centre site around the end of the year, with the aim that the scheme is completed by September 2025. 

Planned works on Central Library will also be announced in due course as part of the City Learning Quarter investment.

Works are progressing well on the first phase of the City Learning Quarter masterplan – a new £8.1 million Advanced Technology and Automotive Centre at the college’s Wellington Road campus – which is due to be completed in July 2024 and is being funded by West Midlands Combined Authority and former Black Country LEP.

Council Leader Councillor Stephen Simkins said: “The City Learning Quarter is a game changing scheme for Wolverhampton. A lot of hard work has been put in by council and college representatives, supported by our local MP Stuart Anderson and the 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 to our city centre and will be an inspirational environment for people to learn in, also offering 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 CEO at the City of Wolverhampton College, said: “This marks a significant milestone in making our City Learning Quarter vision a reality. The city centre campus will transform our student experience and make a tangible impact on the City of Wolverhampton, offering first class facilities in key areas of employment to the thousands of people set to walk through its doors.”

Stuart Anderson, MP for Wolverhampton South West, said: “I am absolutely delighted by this announcement. The City Learning Quarter project will be a lasting legacy, changing the lives of the youth in Wolverhampton. I'm immensely proud to have played a part in securing £20 million of Levelling Up funding for this transformational endeavour, which will bring hope, opportunity, and a brighter future to our city.”

McLaughlin & Harvey Senior Project Manager, Shane Greer, said: “After successfully completing our collaboration with the council on the design and preparatory works, McLaughlin & Harvey is delighted to be commencing works as the main contractor on Wolverhampton City Learning Quarter in the coming weeks. 

“The project, which is being delivered under the Crown Commercial Service CWAS RM6088 Framework, will benefit the area of Wolverhampton with a state of the art learning facility. We will be undertaking initial enabling works such as utility diversions, welfare construction and hoarding installation in advance of demolition and piling commencing in the new year.”

The City Learning Quarter main facility 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 exciting proposals were initially supported by investment from the council with further funding coming through a combination of £5 million from the Towns Fund, £20 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.