The University of Wolverhampton is in negotiations to buy the former Springfield Brewery site in the city centre. The deal will unlock a £70 million investment in the site, transforming it into a construction- and skills-focused campus and business park.
Plans for the West Midlands Construction UTC (University Technical College), which the university is sponsoring along with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), have been submitted to Wolverhampton City Council.
The application is to convert part of the Springfield Brewery site and build a three-storey extension to create the university technical college with parking and external hard-surfaced sports, play and teaching spaces. The plans include the repair and refurbishment of the existing grade II-listed building on site, while the historic entrance gates will be preserved.
The UTC will provide education for 600 14-19-year-olds specialising in construction and the application of IT in the built environment. It will prepare students for professional and technical careers in construction. Led by the CITB and co-sponsored by the university, it will open in September 2015 on a temporary site at Northicote School before moving into the new build at Springfield in September 2016.
The university also plans to relocate its own school of architecture and the built environment to the brownfield site, making it a local, regional, national and international hub for construction education. Plans for this will be submitted at a later stage.
Vice-chancellor Professor Geoff Layer said: “This is a really exciting development for the city of Wolverhampton and the West Midlands as a whole. The plans will enable us to transform the Springfield site into a centre of excellence for construction, providing skills and training for future leaders of the industry.
“Universities are economic anchors in the communities they serve, and we see our role as driving forward regeneration, creating jobs and meeting the needs of business and industry. We are delighted to be working with the CITB on this project, which is set to transform the site and become a real focal point for the city.”
Tom Macdonald, principal designate of WMCUTC, said: “Our architects have been working closely with council planners to develop a state-of-the-art UTC focused on built environment and IT career pathways within the historic Springfield Brewery. Submission of a planning application marks another important milestone in the development of this ground breaking educational opportunity for the young people of the West Midlands.”
Tim Johnson, strategic director at Wolverhampton City Council, said: “It is hugely encouraging to see the plans submitted for a project which could make a big difference to the education offer in the city and regionally for people from the age of 14 upwards – giving them the skills they need to embark on successful careers in construction and related industries.
“This facility will be one of its kind nationally and in Europe and really positions us as a city of innovation. It demonstrates a real drive by the university, business and city council to improve opportunity locally and boost our economy in the long-term. In addition, the development will play an important part in the continued regeneration of Wolverhampton and Canalside in particular.”
The Springfield site has been vacant since 1991 when the brewery closed.