Government minister visits £17.5m National Brownfield Institute
Wolverhampton’s brand-new National Brownfield Institute has been visited by the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP during a whistle-stop tour of the city's university.
The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities met with University and Council leaders during a visit to Wolverhampton, which is home to the department’s second headquarters.
At the University of Wolverhampton’s Springfield Campus, Mr Gove toured the recently completed £17.5m National Brownfield Institute (NBI) which is a flagship initiative backed by central and local government to transform the construction and housing sectors.
He was given a tour of the new facilities, including an Igloo, a 4D immersive suite which will be used in education and research to review and assess land for remediation and regeneration.
Mr Gove also met students and apprentices in the University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment and received a demonstration of the state-of-the-art Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality equipment.
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, focusing on the practical application of future brownfield regeneration through the work of research teams, leading policy development and commercial services.
The scheme has benefited from £14.9million 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.
Professor Ian G. Campbell, Interim Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, said: “We were delighted to welcome the Secretary of State to our new National Brownfield Institute so soon after the completion of building works. Wolverhampton is a beacon of construction and regeneration excellence and this new flagship initiative will transform the future of sustainable housing and the circular economy.
“Our Springfield Campus is transforming the landscape of education, training and skills in the construction industry, and we are proud to be delivering opportunities for new skills and job opportunities as we recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said: “By welcoming the Secretary of State to Wolverhampton we were able to showcase some of the key regeneration plans for the city that are being built on the back of £4.4billion public and private sector investment on site or in the pipeline.
“This has come about through strong partnership working delivering schemes like the National Brownfield Institute - a game-changing development that further enhances the University’s Springfield Campus as a leading Built Environment education campus.
“The visit to the city also enabled us to highlight other ambitious and bold initiatives requiring further support from partners. This included the expansion of our Commercial District, where the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ second headquarters is located inside our i9 complex – and the City Learning Quarter, which is vital to raising the bar for skills and education in our city.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I have made a clear commitment to brownfield-first regeneration in the West Midlands, and the newly launched and highly innovative £17.5m National Brownfield Institute (NBI) at the University of Wolverhampton’s Springfield Campus will help to drive this mission forward.
“This is a flagship initiative that will, at its heart, give local people the skills they need to seize the thousands of high-quality jobs that are being created right now in modern construction.
"The NBI is also an example of how the West Midlands is at its very best when we work together. It was partnership working across the region and with central Government that made this brilliant institute happen, and so it was great to be able to welcome Michael Gove to see the new facility - as well as maybe do a little bit of last-minute negotiating ahead of the Levelling Up White Paper!"
The University of Wolverhampton’s £120 million Springfield campus is Europe’s largest university centre of construction excellence and focuses on innovations linked to sustainable housing and the circular economy.
ISG was awarded the contract to build the National Brownfield Institute (NBI) on the construction super campus, and work got underway in March 2021.
The £17.5million research centre, designed by Birmingham-based Associated Architects, received planning approval in December 2020.
The 12-acre Springfield Campus is already home to the Thomas Telford University Technical College, Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills and the £45million 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.
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