The Government announced in February 2022 that Wolverhampton and Sheffield would be the first of 20 cities to benefit from part of £1.5billion of Levelling Up funding for new infrastructure to be developed on brownfield land to boost housing and jobs.
The aim of the Green Innovation Corridor is to build on Wolverhampton’s growth as a centre for sustainable construction and create skilled jobs for local people in the emerging green economy.
It will focus on creating high-value jobs in specialist sectors, support student retention, harness home-grown talent, develop new opportunities for business investment and growth, and leverage private sector funding.
Phase one of the Green Innovation Corridor is the Springfield Innovation Hub to be developed net carbon zero and based at the University of Wolverhampton’s £120million Springfield site - an architecture and built environment super-campus.
It will see the development of around 90,000sqft of commercial innovation floorspace over three units for business growth and start-ups and will be built around the epicentre of the National Centre for Sustainable Construction, with the creation of over 300 jobs.
The long-term vision is to connect key city assets at the Springfield Campus with Wolverhampton Science Park and link the city centre with the advanced manufacturing cluster in the north of Wolverhampton.
It will stimulate wider regeneration along the corridor by acting as a catalyst for additional private sector investment in the Science Park, unlocking brownfield sites for the development of sustainable and affordable housing, and improving the city’s green spaces and canal side areas.
Green Innovation Corridor future redevelopment phases include ‘Six Mile Green’ at Wolverhampton Science Park and Cross Street North, which will offer the potential to regenerate over 6.4hectares of brownfield land, create 250,000sqft of commercial space and more than 1,000 jobs.
Six Mile Green - named after the 1862 world record for the highest vertical ascent in a hot air balloon launched from the site - will see the construction of units for new business start-ups and innovation, while the Cross Street North site will see new housing and commercial development and public spaces.
City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said: “The City of Wolverhampton’s vision for the Green Innovation Corridor will drive the Green Industrial Revolution, building upon Wolverhampton’s sustainable construction, green credentials and circular economy for transformation that will create quality jobs for local people.
“We are a bold and ambitious city with a track record of delivery. The city council, working with public and private sector partners, makes a real difference to residents and businesses. However, the impact of Covid-19 has hit Wolverhampton hard and exacerbated existing social and economic challenges.
Wolverhampton North East MP, Jane Stevenson, added: “Levelling Up must deliver for Wolverhampton in a number of ways, improving our quality of life, education outcomes and local job opportunities. The Springfield Innovation Hub will not only create hundreds of jobs but will also act as a catalyst for the regeneration of a larger part of the city. The Green Innovation Corridor will transform the canalside from the Brewery to the Science Park with waterside homes and businesses.
“The Springfield Innovation Hub will cement Wolverhampton's place as the National Centre for Sustainable Construction. It will also boost our regional economy, supporting new jobs in high-value manufacturing, green technologies, digital innovation and research.”
University of Wolverhampton Interim Vice Chancellor, Professor Ian Campbell, said: “The university is committed to delivering education and fostering relationships with local business to introduce graduates to the business community. In addition, we recognise the importance of graduate retention in Wolverhampton to assist in its continued growth.
“The facilities we have built to date at Wolverhampton Science Park and Springfield Campus are thriving and will benefit from additional investment in the Innovation Hub to take significant steps towards new goals. The timing is right with the Levelling Up agenda to create a new public/private vehicle to lever new investment and experience across key sectors.”
West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, added: “The Green Innovation Corridor is a fantastic initiative to help create new well-paying jobs in emerging growth sectors. These will be jobs based in Wolverhampton, creating new opportunities for residents, and harnessing the great home-grown local talent we have in Wolverhampton.
“We at the West Midlands Combined Authority have worked closely with the University of Wolverhampton to help deliver £120million of investment in the world-class facility at the National Centre for Sustainable Construction, Europe’s largest specialist construction and built environment hub at Springfield Campus.
“This Green Innovation Corridor is the next step in the process of capturing the growth opportunities that new businesses in green technology and innovation give us; with new research space for scientists, office space for new enterprises, and, of course, new jobs in Wolverhampton.
“The green tech revolution is a huge growth opportunity for our region and this bid will put Wolverhampton at the heart of it.”
A decision on Levelling Up Round 2 funding allocations is expected to be announced this October.