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£54m Glass Research Centre in St Helens | BUILDING MAGAZINE

£54m Glass Research Centre in St Helens

Bowmer & Kirkland have been confirmed as main contractor for a £54m glass research and development facility in St Helens as planning permission has now been secured.

Not-for-profit research and technology organisation Glass Futures has secured approval to build a 160,000 sq ft Global Centre of Excellence.

St Helens Borough council planning committee has this week granted planning permission for the development at Saints Retail Park, on the former United Glassworks site. The planning application was prepared and submitted by developer and landowner Network Space, on behalf of Glass Futures.

The facility will be used to host industry and government backed R&D projects focused on decarbonising glass production. It will also be a place for private companies to test and trial their own commercial ideas.

Bowmer & Kirkland has been appointed to build the Global Centre of Excellence following an open procurement process through the North West Construction Hub. Work is expected to begin on site in July this year and be complete by December 2022.

The project delivery is led by Network Space on behalf of a partnership created between Glass Futures, the global glass supply chain, Network Space, St Helens Council, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and UK Research & Innovation (UKRI).

The project is being funded through a mix of public and private investment. Glass Futures has secured a £15m UKRI grant to support the installation of an experimental furnace capable of melting 30 tonnes of glass per day in a safe experimental space. Network Space has been awarded a £9m grant from the Liverpool City Region’s ‘Build Back Better’ fund to support the construction costs. Glass sector companies will also contribute a further £20m in resource, time and equipment to support the project. St Helens Council will take a head lease of the building to facilitate the development and deliver a green recovery.

Richard Katz, Glass Futures chief executive said: “The research, innovations and energy efficiencies we deliver here can be shared and harnessed by all glass applications including packaging, glazing and glass fibre, as well as across other foundation industries. The Global Centre of Excellence will enable us to work collaboratively with our members, the supply chain and academia to achieve zero carbon glass”.

Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region mayor, said: “Glass Futures has the potential to put our region at the forefront of the green industrial revolution and make us a global leader in new technology. When complete, this project will help take St Helens proud history in glass making and bring it into the 21st century, creating lots of local jobs and drastically cutting carbon emissions”.