£90m flagship Glass Academy delayed

A £90million Glass Academy in Sheffield - announced in 2014 - is still years from taking shape.

Friday, 11th March 2016, 1:47 pm
Updated Friday, 11th March 2016, 2:02 pm
The Glass Academy

The proposal for an incredible all-glass centre of excellence – to stand next to Sheffield University’s Factory 2050 on Sheffield Business Park – has been delayed by ambitious changes to the original brief.

Industry body British Glass wanted to build a flagship academy to attract talent to a low profile sector beset by an ageing workforce and a lack of government-recognised training qualifications.

Nick Clegg, the then deputy prime minister, announced £5m to kickstart the project in 2014. But it is still on the drawing board.

Project leader Alistair Wallace, of British Glass, said after the plan was announced it became clear it was “impossible to justify that kind of spend on an academy alone.”

Today, the proposal is for six buildings set to include an academy, conference centre, ‘mini’ factories for training and R&D facilities.

Re-opening negotiations with central government about the changes also caused delays, he added

“What would have been unforgivable is to spend all this money on a training centre that was no use to customers.

“We are still driving towards a centre of excellence encompassing all the initial objectives but there has been a shift in strategic direction.”

He hoped to make a ‘significant’ announcement in the summer and the building could now be finished by 2020, he added.

The industry’s first qualification, a Level 3 apprenticeship in melting and forming, has yet to be signed off.

A Local Enterprise Partnership spokesman confirmed the £5million had not been spent.

Graham Sadler, managing director of Sheffield Business Park, said: “The space is still available, but we have had a few enquiries.”