The building of a new £17.5 million National Brownfield Institute (NBI) in Wolverhampton will start in the New Year after it today (Friday 11 December) received planning approval to be constructed on the University of Wolverhampton’s Springfield Campus.

The NBI will be a world class institute that provides the facility to develop modern methods of building through innovation and partnership with the construction industry. 

Built on the University of Wolverhampton’s £120 million Springfield Campus, the NBI will focus on the practical application of future brownfield regeneration through the work of research teams, leading policy development and commercial services.

The scheme will receive £14.9 million of funding from the Government’s Get Building Fund for the West Midlands. City of Wolverhampton Council worked closely with the Black Country LEP and West Midlands Combined Authority to secure the funding. A request for the remainder of the funding required forms part of the city’s bid to the Government’s Towns Fund.

The NBI 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 hit hard by the pandemic. 

Councillor Stephen Simkins, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “This is an exciting moment as it means the construction of the National Brownfield Institute can start in the New Year.

“It is yet another sign of the confidence being shown in Wolverhampton as a place to invest and live, as our regeneration plans change our city and relight it despite the huge challenges the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown at us.

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

“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.”

Professor Geoff Layer, Vice Chancellor at the University, said: “This is fantastic news for the city, the University and the local economy. 

“Our Estates and Facilities team has worked closely with Architectural, Civil, Mechanical and Electrical consultants including Associated Architects, CPW and Atkins alongside the construction contractor, ISG Limited, to deliver this approval.

“We are working really hard behind the scenes to ensure that this project is moving forward quickly and each milestone we achieve is a step closer to the next building.

“The NBI 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.”

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

Tom Westley DL, Chair of the Black Country LEP Board, said: “This is great news for both Wolverhampton and the West Midlands, a real boost to start the New Year. Thanks to investment from Government, and the hard work of all our project partners, the National Brownfield Institute promises to be a world-class facility. 

“The Black Country LEP are delighted to support projects such as these which are making a real positive impact on the local economy, creating jobs and supporting skills development, as our region looks to recover from the impact of the pandemic.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the WMCA, added: “Today’s planning approval is tremendous news for the region because this Institute will help the West Midlands become a global leader in the clean up and regeneration of derelict sites. 

“That’s important for several reasons not least because every brownfield site we develop saves a greenfield one. But it will also drive next generation thinking and the development of new techniques for transforming brownfield land into vibrant new communities offering affordable and energy efficient homes for local people and modern commercial premises for growing businesses.

“The Institute wills also equip our residents with the modern construction skills they will need to work on these brownfield projects, helping to get people into high skilled, well paid, work as we look to bounce back from the economic impact of the pandemic.”