Work is on schedule at the £54million Glass Futures Global Centre of Excellence in St Helens with the steelwork structure now completed.


Contractor Bowmer + Kirkland, which started on site in January, says the next phase of the scheme is already underway with the cladding and external elevations expected to be completed on the 165,000 sq ft facility by the end of the summer.

 B+K’s work on the scheme is expected to complete in January 2023, ready for fit-out by Glass Futures.

The facility has been pre-let to St Helens Borough Council on a 15-year head lease and will be sub-let to Glass Futures which will occupy and manage the building to deliver industry and government backed research and development projects focused on decarbonising glass production. It will also provide a platform for the industry to access an experimental scale furnace to test and run trials for implementation at commercial scale on a state-of-the-art line, both collaboratively and individually.

Delivery of the project was conceived and is being managed by landowner and developer Network Space Developments (NSD), on behalf of a partnership including not-for-profit research organisation Glass Futures , St Helens Borough Council, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and UKRI (UK Research & Innovation). NSD will continue to manage the delivery of the project through to practical completion. Earlier this year the building was presold by NSD to global investor Standard Life Investments Property Income Trust, part of abrdn, to secure forward funding and conclude a viable delivery strategy.

Catherine Chilvers, Development Director at Network Space, said: “We’re delighted with the progress so far on site with a completion date of January 2023 still very much in our sights. The outline structure of the facility is now visible and symbolises the scale and ambition of both St Helens Council and the Glass Futures project to bring significant investment and skilled jobs back into St Helens and the wider Liverpool City Region economy.

She added: “None of this would have been possible without the exceptional partnership formed between NSD, Glass Futures, St Helens Borough Council, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and UKRI.  The partnership is proud to see the noticeable progress being made on site following the tremendous efforts to achieve this key milestone.”

David Baker, Project Manager on the Glass Futures’ site for B+K said: “We’re making significant progress on site with the steel frame now completed and roofing works commenced. The B+K team is proud to be part of this iconic build for St Helens and its future role in glass manufacturing and development in the area. The scheme is transformational in every sense, not just for the town but also for its future contribution towards zero carbon production in the global glass industry.”