By Councillor Ian Brookfield – Leader of City of Wolverhampton Council
Whether you are an investor, developer or financier there is no doubt your next destination should be the ‘City of Opportunity’.
That city is Wolverhampton. We are following our mantra ‘Out of Darkness Cometh Light’ as we relight following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic – backed by £4.4billion of investment on site or in the pipeline.
Alongside our strengths in advanced manufacturing, construction and transport, the city has also seen a rise in other sectors such as financial services, and arts and culture.
All these sectors are growing thanks to Wolverhampton’s location at the heart of the country – and outstanding connectivity by road, rail and tram. An incredible gateway to the city is being forged thanks to a £150million award-winning transport Interchange.
A new state-of-the-art railway station was completed earlier this year and is ideally placed to benefit from HS2 – dramatically cutting journey times to London, the North and internationally. New track is now being laid to enable the Metro to drop passengers right outside its main entrance forming a truly multi-modal hub with a modern bus station just yards away and integrated cycling provision.
Bold vision and leadership by City of Wolverhampton Council to get the public and private sectors working hand in hand is reaping rewards with the development of new Grade A office accommodation to create a new commercial district intertwined with the Interchange that will bring further investment and jobs to the city. The recently completed i9 complex emerged following the success of its neighbour – the award-winning i10 building, which was fully let within weeks of completion.
Both multi-million-pound projects were delivered successfully by the council in partnership with leading property developer, Ion. And it is testament to the quality of the offer at i9 that it has prompted the Government to make it the location of its first ministerial department outside London – a second headquarters for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities.
The kudos of being the first place outside of Whitehall to host a Government department is creating a real buzz and interest in our city, attracting further investment which is exactly what we want to be able to ‘relight’ Wolverhampton.
Expansion works at Wolverhampton’s major business park, i54, are also close to completion and it is anticipated new occupiers will start arriving from 2022, providing around 1,700 new jobs for local residents – and enhancing the city’s already strong high-value manufacturing base.
Bolstering the number of skilled workers for the new jobs coming into the city remains high on the priority list for city partners, prompting an ambitious vision for a City Learning Quarter in the city centre that will provide a state-of-the-art learning environment for young people and adults in the city and safeguard 750 jobs in the local economy.
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. There are also wider development opportunities as part of Canalside South regeneration, which will be defined by a mixture of new, modern sustainable homes in an attractive canalside setting, supported by a dynamic mixed community, employment and leisure uses. It will create major new residential communities, which will be make a positive contribution to the economy and life of the city.
In July, Wolverhampton made history by becoming the first English city to sign the European Circular Cities Declaration – a major environmental agreement designed to accelerate the adoption of circular economies across the continent. The certification of Wolverhampton as a Europe-leading centre of green growth is spearheaded by the city’s expertise in sustainable construction.
Part of the University of Wolverhampton, its Springfield Campus will be Europe’s largest specialist academic centre for Architecture and Built Environment, offering world-class teaching, research and training in Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and revolutionary remediation techniques to unlock brownfield development.
Firmly establishing the city’s MMC expertise is the arrival of a new £17.5m National Brownfield Institute (NBI), created to help the construction industry unlock disused land for greener, safer and cheaper building projects. Funding of more than £40million from the Government’s Future High Street Fund and Town Deal Fund has also given a major boost to regeneration schemes across the city centre, Bilston and Wednesfield.
Works have started on the first phase of a multi-million-pound transformation of the city centre to create events spaces, improve public realm and support businesses. The main works will also see the creation of a box park to provide a new food and beverage offer and play host to live entertainment. A further phase of work will also start this year to develop the street scene around the iconic entertainment and music venue, the Civic Halls, ahead of its reopening in 2022 following a major refurbishment.
It is all tailored to support the development of the city’s five-year events strategy, which will get into full swing in 2022, with the Commonwealth Games cycling time trial, British Art Show 9, and the first-ever Creation Day music Festival among the highlights.
The city 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 gigabit-capable full fibre broadband connectivity to businesses, schools and homes.
Wolverhampton is on the up thanks to the support of strong, consistent and innovative city leadership. So, bring your business to the City of Opportunity.
Anyone who wishes to discuss investment opportunities can contact Chris Kirkland, Head of City Investment at City of Wolverhampton Council by email at Christopher.email@example.com or on mobile at 07971 843808.