The future of glass

Construction of a new £54m glass research and innovation facility is due to commence this month at Saints Retail Park in St Helens.

The 165,000ft2 scheme is expected to complete in January 2023, ready for fit-out.

Network Space Developments (NSD) has appointed Bowmer + Kirkland to build the project. The site was previously home to the former United Glassworks which closed in the late 1990’s.

The facility has been pre let to St Helens Borough Council on a 15-year head lease and will be sub-let to not for profit research organisation, 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.

Catherine Chilvers, Development Director at NSD, said: “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.”

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of Liverpool City Region, added: “This is a massively important project, not only for our region but for the future of the planet. St Helens has always been a global leader in the glass industry with a proud industrial past. Glass Futures will help it maintain that prominence and give the town a significant role in the Green Industrial Revolution too.

“It’s fantastic to see that we’ll soon see spades in the ground and the site up and running soon after. The work being done to decarbonise the glass production process is of international significance and should have really important lessons for helping other industries to cut their carbon emissions.

Councillor Richard McCauley, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning at St Helens Borough Council, concluded: “St Helens is steeped in glass manufacturing, and we want to keep it that way at the heart of global innovation – having Glass Futures here will put us at the centre of sustainable glass making for decades to come in support of our climate emergency action plan and the reuse of brownfield sites.”