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Work to start on £54m glass research and innovation centre
Work is set to start on the build of the £54m Glass Futures global centre of excellence in St Helens.
Remediation and preparatory works will shortly complete, and in January 2022, Bowmer + Kirkland will start construction of the transformational global glass research and innovation facility. The 165,000 sq ft scheme is expected to complete in January 2023, ready for fit-out.
Once built, Glass Futures will occupy and manage the building to deliver industry and government backed research and development projects focused on decarbonising glass production. It will also provide a platform for the industry to access an experimental scale furnace to test and run trials for implementation at commercial scale on a state-of-the-art line, both collaboratively and individually.
Glass Futures has already created 24 skilled jobs and expects to create and accommodate another 50 between now and when the facility is fully operational in 2023. Glass Futures and its partners will create opportunity for apprenticeships, training and upskilling across the glass and other foundation industry sectors. It is also set to attract further inward investment to the region as leading international glass companies focus resources to be within geographical reach of the facility.
Catherine Chilvers, development director at Network Space, said: “Bowmer + Kirkland starting on site within just two years of the Glass Futures scheme being first conceived is testament to our own commitment to the project and that of an exceptional partnership formed between ourselves, Glass Futures, St Helens Borough Council, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and UKRI. Everyone has worked incredibly hard to get to this point and we are grateful to all for their significant efforts. It will be truly fantastic to see a redundant former glass works site being transformed into a global R&D hub, once again securing St Helens position at the forefront of glass innovation and the transition to zero carbon glass production.”
Glass Futures’ chief executive, Richard Katz, added: “Starting on site is monumental, it enables the delivery of a global test-bed facility to develop processes to make glass the most sustainable and recyclable material available. The research, innovations and energy efficiencies we deliver here can be shared and harnessed by all global glass applications including packaging, glazing and glass fibre as well as across other foundation industries. This global centre of excellence, working in partnership with its members and the global glass industry, will enable us to work collaboratively with our members, the supply chain and academia to ultimately achieve zero carbon glass.”
The site, previously the former United Glassworks which closed in the late 1990’s, was later developed in part by Network Space Developments (NSD) for a new stadium for St Helens Rugby League, which opened in 2011.