Glass Futures, c PNW

Glass Futures is pioneering ways to decarbonise glass-making. Credit: Place North West

St Helens campus development can be ‘epicentre for decarbonisation’

Innovative work in the town could change glass making and other industries across the world, according to Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram.

The St Helens Manufacturing and Innovation Campus has been included in the Liverpool City Region Investment Zone plan to bolster the future of health and life sciences in the region.

It is one of three ringfenced investment zone sites which offer financial benefits to businesses relocating to the area or expanding.

The document states SINA is redeveloping the former United Glass Warehouse into a modern medical glass manufacturing site, while Glass Futures will support innovation in life sciences products with a centre of excellence in medical glass.

According to the document, £500m worth of investment would be ploughed into a mix of redevelopment, growth, and land development projects at the site, to increase the area’s manufacturing and innovation capabilities. Partners include St Helens Council, SINA Medical Glass, Inovus Medical, Glass Futures, NSG Pilkington and Network Space.

Inovus Medical plans to grow its surgical simulator business from its new headquarters at Glass Futures, while the council and Network Space is plotting a life sciences development on a five-acre site next to that HQ.

This could provide 85,000 sq ft of life science laboratories, as well as innovation, manufacturing and storage space.

A planning application is expected to be submitted this year, aiming to secure permission by March next year and  construction to start in 2025/2026, attracting pre-let occupiers from April 2026.

A masterplan is also being drawn up by the council and Pilkington for a 31-acre mixed use development of the firm’s former Watson Street site, including 413 homes, with 477,000 sq ft of commercial, and industrial space.

The plan is expected to go out to consultation later this summer to be considered for approval before the end of the year.

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Steve Rotheram spoke at the Net Zero North West manifesto launch. Credit: Joe Roper, Agent

Speaking to Place North West at the Net Zero North West cluster group’s manifesto launch in Manchester, Rotheram said the plans could have a big impact on decarbonising other industries, putting the region on the map globally, being at the forefront of such work.

Rotheram said: “The coatings at Pilkington that they use are fossil fuel, and fired at the moment. We need to move away from that, when you think about how much carbon that produces.

“Glass Futures is now based in St Helens and it’s looking specifically at the glass industry.

“If we can decarbonise that industry then other energy intensive industries will follow, such as ceramics, so we’re trialling it to see how other fuels burn.

“We don’t want to just roll that out in the North West or the UK, it’s something we can export globally and all of that learning means we’ll be at the epicentre of decarbonisation.”

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I don’t understand what commercial opportunities are going to be viable on the Watson St works, with the amount of land currently undeveloped on the adjacent Ravenhead Retail Park. Surely it would be better to try and keep the Watson St site industrial and have industry move in that would be attracted by the closeness of the Glass Futures site and the attractiveness of subsidies from the fund mentioned. St Helens should be epicentre of the Glass Industry in this country. Not a shadow of its former self.

By Anonymous

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