The construction of a £54m glass research and development facility began when Bowmer & Kirkland officially broke ground in St Helens.
The 165.000 sqft facility is expected to complete in January 2023 when it will be ready for the internal fit out.
Building contractor Bowmer & Kirkland have been appointed by Network Space Developments(NSD) to deliver the building at Saints Retail Park, which will occupy a site with links to the town’s glass industry heritage.
The building has been pre-sold by NSD to Standard Life Investments Property Income Trust. It has been pre-let to St Helens Borough Council on a 15 year head lease and will be sublet to Glass Futures who will occupy and manage the building to deliver industry and government-backed research and development projects focused on decarbonising glass production.This will also be a platform for the industry to be able to access an experimental scale furnace to test and run trials for implementation on a commercial scale.
The ground breaking ceremony was attended by representatives of Glass Futures, Network Space Developments, St Helens Borough Council, Liverpool City Region, Bowmer & Kirkland, UKRI and the government, along with local MP’s.
“A few months ago the UK was host to world leaders at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow where it was agreed that urgent action is needed to tackle the emergency that we face from climate change. Glass Futures is a good example of how we can do that. St Helens has always been considered a global leader in the glass industry and Glass Futures will be important in helping to ensure it retains that role in the future of the industry as it decarbonises and it will also be an important opportunity for jobs and skills”, said Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Mayor.
Richard Katz, Glass Futures’ Chief execjutive said: “It is essential the world wakes up to the damage it is doing to itself and acts now collectively to dramatically reduce fossil fuel emissions whether these are from industry, transport, agriculture or domestic heating. The Glass Futures. hot glass experimental facility will make a considerable difference in the strive to cutting emissions, designed to work both collectively or privately with industry in order to identify and deliver sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels”.