Written By The City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield.
As City of Wolverhampton Council Leader I am hugely excited about the way the city is being transformed by £4.4 billion of investment on site or in the pipeline. It’s making a real difference to businesses, residents and visitors.
The railway station symbolises the changes afoot with the old station building making way for a state-of-the-art facility as part of a £150 million Interchange scheme creating a first-class gateway to the city.
Phase one of the new station is already open to the public and once the second phase is completed in early 2021, final works will begin to connect the station to a new Metro extension, creating a fully integrated transport hub with the adjacent bus station.
The Interchange will also benefit the neighbouring commercial district. The office space in the award-winning i10 building is fully let and, on the opposite side of the road, the eye-catching modern office development, i9, is coming out of the ground. The finished building will provide up to 52,000 sq ft of stunning Grade A office space, has potential for 5,600 sq ft of leisure space for restaurants, and is planned for completion in 2021.
This will lead to extra people working and travelling into the city, benefitting the local economy. Expansion works at Wolverhampton’s major business park, i54, are also expected to be completed next year and it is anticipated new occupiers could start arriving from 2022, providing around 1,700 new jobs for local residents – and enhancing the city’s already strong high-value manufacturing base.
Our leisure offer is also on the up with the iconic Civic Halls undergoing a £38 million overhaul that will enable the 82-year-old venue to continue attracting the biggest names in music and comedy, ensuring it generates millions of pounds a year and creates hundreds of jobs for people in the city.
And major cinema chain Odeon has revealed its interest in becoming the anchor tenant for the Westside leisure-led scheme in the city centre.
Stimulating the city centre living offer is key to the way the city centre is reimagined and revitalised, with thousands of homes planned through the delivery of transformational schemes such as Brewers Yard and Horseley Fields as part of Canalside regeneration.
We are also focussed on bringing vibrancy and vitality within the city centre and town centres through the delivery of an Arts Park next to the Grand Theatre, public realm improvements to better connect areas such as the Molineux Quarter around our high-flying Premier League football club, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and the growth of an extensive events programme.
Wolverhampton is also pioneering the way in technology and innovation. It is part of the UK’s first multi-city 5G test bed and boasts a comprehensive digital infrastructure strategy that is delivering the benefits of full fibre broadband connectivity to businesses, schools and homes.
I am also very proud that funding is now in place for the creation of a National Brownfield Institute on the site of the University of Wolverhampton’s Springfield Campus, which will make the city a world leader in construction, regeneration and built environment, offering teaching and skills development, cutting edge research and innovation, and enterprise and business engagement through multi-sector partnerships.
And the drive to bolster skills and education in the city and wider region does not stop there, with planning approval in place for a new City Learning Quarter that will provide a state-of-the-art learning environment for young people and adults in the city. As well as the new facilities providing educational benefits, the Learning Quarter will generate and safeguard 750 jobs for the region, as well as helping to fast track around 1,500 additional jobs within the city.
This is all part of the multi-billion-pound investment by the public and private sectors in our city – a city of opportunity – as we look to bounce back from the impact of Covid-19.
This investment will change the face of our city and is creating a wealth of attractive opportunities for developers and investors.
Through our multi-million-pound bids to the Government’s Future High Street Fund and the Towns Fund, there’s also a real opportunity for local and central Government to work together and act as a catalyst to attract further investment and development to realise our vision.
We have developed – with partners – bold and ambitious plans to reimagine and transform areas with better jobs, better skills, better entertainment, better homes, better public spaces, better events and better connectivity.