McLaughlin & Harvey lands contract for £61m Wolverhampton learning hub

McLaughlin & Harvey has been appointed as the main contractor on a “game-changing” learning quarter in Wolverhampton city centre.

The £41m main build contract will include creating a new main campus for the City of Wolverhampton College within a group of Victorian and early Edwardian buildings in the city centre.

McLaughlin & Harvey has been working with both the college and Wolverhampton City Council to develop detailed designs since signing a preconstruction agreement last year.

Work on site is expected to begin around the end of this year, with the goal of completing by September 2025.

The work is part of the council’s City Learning Quarter scheme, which has a total capital budget of £51.6m.

As well as the college campus, it will also include works on the same site to develop new facilities for Wolverhampton’s adult education service and Central Library, including the restoration of the library’s facade and internal improvements. The contracts for the remaining work are still at the procurement stage.

The city centre scheme is part of a wider development programme that includes a separate £8.1m technical centre at the college’s Wellington Road campus, constructed under a design-and-build contract by Speller Metcalfe. This element is due to be completed by July 2024.

The two new learning hubs will be connected by bus and tram links.

The latest budget for the overall programme, including both sites, is now £69.5m. The projects are being funded from multiple sources, including £22m from the Department for Education, £5m from the government’s Towns Fund, and £20m from its Levelling Up Fund. The programme has also received £7.75m from the West Midlands Combined Authority.

A council report in September noted a £4m funding gap, which is expected to be met through asset disposals by the council and college as well as “contributions and additional grants from government”.

Wolverhampton council said the learning quarter scheme would boost skills and employment among people in the city and surrounding region.

Council leader Stephen Simkins described the City Learning Quarter as a “game-changing scheme for Wolverhampton”.

He added: “A lot of hard work has been put in by council and college representatives, supported by our local MP Stuart Anderson and the West Midlands Combined Authority, to secure vital funding and get us to the point where we can make our vision a reality.

“The City Learning Quarter will have a visible and tangible impact on the City of Wolverhampton and its residents, making a massive difference to everyday life through direct investment in skills and education.”

McLaughlin & Harvey was ranked 25th in the most recent CN100 list of top contractors, with turnover of £799.6m for the year to 30 June 2022. It previously worked on other high-profile educational projects such as Coventry University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and Oxford Brookes University’s Clerici Building.

Shane Greer, senior project manager at McLaughlin & Harvey, said: “After successfully completing our collaboration with the council on the design and preparatory works, McLaughlin & Harvey is delighted to be commencing works as the main contractor on Wolverhampton City Learning Quarter in the coming weeks.

“The project, which is being delivered under the Crown Commercial Service CWAS RM6088 Framework, will benefit the area of Wolverhampton with a state-of-the-art learning facility. We will be undertaking initial enabling works such as utility diversions, welfare construction and hoarding installation in advance of demolition and piling commencing in the new year.”

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