Six months of remediation and preparatory works are coming to a close and the 165,000 sq ft research facility will soon start to emerge from the ground.
The scheme is expected to complete in January 2023, ready for fit-out.
The site was previously home to United Glassworks, which closed in the late 1990s. It was later developed in part by Network Space Developments (NSD) for a new stadium for St Helens Rugby League, which opened in 2011, and the Saints Retail Park. NSD secured planning permission to build a £54m glass research and innovation facility on the site in May 2021.
The facility has been pre let to St Helens Borough Council on a 15-year head lease and will be sublet to Glass Futures, which will occupy and manage the building for research and development projects focused on decarbonising glass production.
Catherine Chilvers, Development Director at Network Space, said: “Bowmer & Kirkland starting on site within just two years of the Glass Futures scheme being first conceived is testament to our own commitment to the project and that of an exceptional partnership formed between ourselves, Glass Futures, St Helens Borough Council, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and UKRI. Everyone has worked incredibly hard to get to this point and we are grateful to all for their significant efforts. It will be truly fantastic to see a redundant former glass works site being transformed into a global R&D hub, once again securing St Helens position at the forefront of glass innovation and the transition to zero carbon glass production.”
Glass Futures chief executive Richard Katz said: “Starting on site is monumental. It enables the delivery of a global test-bed facility to develop processes to make glass the most sustainable and recyclable material available. The research, innovations and energy efficiencies we deliver here can be shared and harnessed by all global glass applications including packaging, glazing and glass fibre as well as across other foundation industries. This Global Centre of Excellence, working in partnership with its members and the global glass industry, will enable us to work collaboratively with our members, the supply chain and academia to ultimately achieve zero carbon glass.”