Key handover opens the doors for the future of brownfield regeneration



The National Brownfield Institute (NBI) has reached another milestone with partners taking delivery of the keys to the new facility which is set to open the door to a cutting-edge future in the regeneration of former industrial land.

The NBI, which has been built at the University of Wolverhampton’s flagship £120 million Springfield Campus, will focus on the research and development of modern methods of construction, such as homes built off-site in factories, as well as ways to clean up brownfield land so it is suitable for building on.

The £17.5million Institute will help secure the City of Wolverhampton and the wider West Midlands’ position as a leader internationally in sustainable construction, circular economy and brownfield development and will deliver new skills, jobs and opportunities for local people.

Key handover opens the doors for the future of brownfield regeneration

Left to right: Councillor Ian Brookfield (Leader of City of Wolverhampton Council), Wayne Flannery (Regional Director - ISG), Wala Abdalla (PhD Research Student - University of Wolverhampton), Professor David Proverbs (Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University), Andy Street (Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA), Arun Kumar (Programme Office - Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership) and Paola Reyes Veras (PhD Research Student - University of Wolverhampton).

The ‘shovel-ready’ project 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 (WMCA) to secure the funding with the remainder provided by the Government’s Towns Fund.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, joined other partners to receive the keys.

He said: “Housebuilding on derelict industrial land has been one of the region’s real success stories of recent years and we are rightly regarded as a national leader in urban regeneration,” he said.

“Not only is our brownfield first approach helping to provide high quality, energy efficient new homes for local people it is also helping to protect our precious green belt.

“This new Institute will build on that solid track record, helping us pioneer new, modern methods of construction that can massively speed up the supply of affordable new homes while giving people the skills they need to work in the green building industries of the future.”

Professor David Proverbs, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University, added: “This is another major milestone for our important regeneration project, further adding to the portfolio of construction and built environment expertise that now resides at the Springfield Campus.

“The NBI will be at the heart of a West Midlands Construction Training Offer – providing the industry with the skills needed both now and in the future. As well as being at the forefront of a transformation of the way we will build homes and communities, it will also ensure that we learn from research around the world on modern construction and remediation technique. 

“The NBI will help as a catalyst in utilisation of brownfield sites and provide developers with advice and knowledge in relation to areas such as building scanning, soil analysis, ground water contamination and ground stabilisation to effectively bring those sites back into use.  

“It will be a working model for brownfield remediation and new construction techniques that can be implemented regionally and nationally and exported around the world, building on existing expertise offered on site through the Thomas Telford University Technical College, the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills and the new School of Architecture & Built Environment.”

City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said: “The National Brownfield Institute is a game-changing development that further enhances the Springfield Campus as a leading Built Environment education campus.

“It will enable the City of Wolverhampton to secure its position as a world leader in sustainable construction, circular economy and brownfield development and will deliver new skills, jobs and opportunities for local people in the city.

“Coupled with the creation of a dual headquarters for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in Wolverhampton and its associated Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) Taskforce, the city will be at the forefront of shaping housing policy.

“The construction of the National Brownfield Institute has been achieved while working under Covid-19 restrictions and forms part of the city’s bold and ambitious regeneration plans that are being powered by more than £4.4billion of investment on site or in the pipeline.”

The NBI will provide a purpose-built facility to develop modern methods of building through innovation and partnership with the construction industry, focusing on the practical application of future brownfield regeneration and remediation through the work of research teams, leading policy development and commercial services. 

The new Institute will also identify and look to address gaps in current provision, with a particular focus on the digital skills needed to transform the industry, bringing together expertise from across the region and further afield with greater focus on construction design, Building Information Modelling (BIM), off-site, modular construction, and lean construction methodologies.

ISG was awarded the contract to build the NBI on the construction super campus, with work starting in April 2021. The research centre, designed by Birmingham-based Associated Architects, received planning approval in December 2020.

Tom Westley DL, Chair of the Black Country LEP Board, said: “This is great news for both Wolverhampton and the West Midlands, a real boost to start the New Year. Thanks to investment from Government, and the hard work of all our project partners, the National Brownfield Institute promises to be a world-class facility. 

“The Black Country LEP are delighted to support projects such as these which are making a real positive impact on the local economy, creating jobs and supporting skills development, as our region looks to recover from the impact of the pandemic.”

Wayne Flannery, regional director at ISG, said: “The University of Wolverhampton’s masterplan for the Springfield Campus has not only proved transformational for this underused brownfield site, but is similarly inspiring future generations of talent making a career in the built environment sector. Learning and researching advanced construction approaches and methods in outstanding buildings, that are themselves exemplars of the very best of our industry, is something that we are exceptionally proud to have delivered in partnership with the University.” 

The 12-acre Springfield Campus is already home to the Thomas Telford University Technical College, Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills and the recently opened £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.

The NBI project team includes the University’s Estates & Facilities Team, Associate Architects, CPW, Faithful & Gould, Delta Planning, Atkins and MACE.  

Anyone looking to study at the University of Wolverhampton should register for one of our forthcoming Open Days/

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