Work has begun to erect the steel framework on a new city centre college campus as part of the council’s transformational Phase Two City Learning Quarter masterplan.

Situated around the Old Hall Street and St George’s Parade area, incorporating a site on the corner of Garrick Street and Bilston Street where the former Faces nightclub building once stood, the development is also utilising City of Wolverhampton College’s existing Metro One building.

Strip-out, demolition, ground preparation and piling works have now been completed and the foundations are in place, with contractor McLaughlin & Harvey on course to deliver the new state of the art facility in time for the start of the 2025/26 academic year.

Alongside improved Adult Education Wolverhampton and Central Library facilities, the £61 million scheme – supported by Government funding - will establish new educational provision that enhance skills and employment outcomes for residents across the city and wider region.

Speller Metcalfe was last week awarded the pre-construction contract to carry out the remaining Phase Two improvement works on Adult Education Wolverhampton’s Alan Garner Centre on Old Hall Street and the Grade II* listed Central Library.

Works are also progressing well on Phase One 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 by Speller Metcalfe 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 has been a long held ambition of the city council and the steels being erected for the college campus building is a major step towards the creation of a vibrant education hub that will unlock future opportunities for all in the city.

“We are working hard with City of Wolverhampton College to ensure 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 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 routes.

“We will be delivering an environment where everyone can flourish, demonstrating the commitment we have to investing in our citizens.”

Mal Cowgill, Principal and CEO at City of Wolverhampton College, said: “Installation of the first steels is a significant milestone in the construction of the new campus and great news for the city, the college and the hundreds of students, apprentices, staff, employers and local people who will benefit from its first class training facilities for many years to come. 

"We are extremely grateful for the support of the council and other partners in the development of the new campus and are looking forward to seeing the building take shape and the long held vision finally becoming a reality."

Stuart Anderson, MP for Wolverhampton South West, said: “I am immensely proud of the City Learning Quarter project. 

“With substantial funding from the Towns Fund, the Levelling Up Fund, and the Department for Education, as well as additional support from the college and City of Wolverhampton Council, we are set to transform education in Wolverhampton. 

“This investment will profoundly impact the future of our children and the wider community for generations to come.”

The exciting City Learning Quarter proposals were 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.