It’s often said that the difference between success and failure can be the smallest thing – an idea, money, a little knowledge. Does the same apply to an area? Could Wolverhampton become the next Bristol, a thriving city full of bright young things launching excellent independent businesses & tech start ups? Could the right idea launch a business that could go on to revitalise, for example, Horseley Fields or the south side of Wolverhampton’s city centre? Maybe the right person with a small cash injection could see further progress – after all, the city is undergoing something of a regeneration at the moment.
We asked a question on social media – If you had £10 million to spend, but had to spend it improving #Wolverhampton in some way, what would you do with it?
We had some interesting and thought provoking responses, as below:
Open a Camden style market where Sainsburys is by trams. People would travel from afar for a good street food market.
Give Wolverhampton the shopping centre and surrounding area the makeover it deserves,to rival Birmingham and Merry Hill. Make it FEEL like a proper city.
Have separate areas one for shopping mostly independent stores one for restaurants and food outlets one leisure activities like ice skating ,bowling ,gym and one for bars clubs live bands comedy clubs theatres cinemas and free parking with security and any plants and tress to be fruit and berries so anyone can pick free food.
Improvements to homeless services would be the perfect way to spend the money.
I’d spend it on getting rid of corruption on all levels…thereby increasing its value 10 fold at least, the people of Wolverhampton better.
Open a Pret a Manger so us veggies have some nicer lunch choices.
A Lush store for those of us who don’t want to travel to Birmingham for it.
Open some nice craft stores as the only place to get that type of stuff is sometimes The Works or online and i’d prefer to spend money in local stores and to see what I’m buying.
I’ve moved from Bristol and these are the things I miss most! We need quirkiness!!
Bring Chapel Ash back to life as an arts and cultural hub like Moseley in Birmingham – with lots of independent businesses, shop, cafes and bars designed to appeal mostly to students and young people.
Well I don’t know how far 10 million would go. But I would invest in free parking for the city centre to encourage locals to actually use there city centre instead driving to Merry Hill.
Stop the cuts to libraries.
If you haven’t visited Wolverhampton city centre in a while, you might just be in for a surprise. There are areas of the city that you will no longer recognise – even if your last visit was just a few years back. We’ve covered the various construction projects in Wolverhampton previously, but it’s time to take a look at work on the new Debenhams store that is rising from the ashes of the south side of the Mander Centre. The 1960s building that we knew of as Owen and Owen and TJ Hughes amongst other guises has now gone, demolition seeing to that and the shops that lined the ramps that lead onto St John’s Street / Victoria Street and Bell Street.
Above the ramps, the area that housed Tesco has also been wiped. We’re talking a large area, some 93,000 sq ft according to the Mander Centre – compare that to previous plans for a 70,000 sq ft store at the doomed Summer Row. It is indeed refreshing to see, with internet shopping currently in vogue, so much faith in Wolverhampton from the owners of the Mander Centre and Debenhams. This is no small project – you can’t fail to notice the sheer scale, with cranes rising from Wolverhampton’s skyline visible from miles around.
The Mander Centre itself is some way through a refurbishment, with the atrium area being redeveloped. Gone are the central lifts which, when complete, will open out the centre area allowing unhindered views from north to south. A new lift is in place at the Farmers Fold entrance. Unfortunately, the demise of BHS sees the Mander Centre with another empty three storey building. Add onto this the closure of the city centre’s Mothercare store (poor timing saw this disappear alongside BHS last week) and there is a bigger blank canvas than was anticipated. Positives see H&M taking the area that once housed Woolworths and all that space for other big names to step in.
It’s all change in this area at the moment, with shoppers eagerly awaiting the rise of Debenhams – still quite a wait yet though, the new store is scheduled to open in Autumn 2017.
Redevelopment is rolling on in Wolverhampton – but will the negative views of locals change? At West Wulf, we’ve seen some interesting things in the last two weeks that highlight both the best and the worst of people in our city.
Before we go any further, a quick note. Having travelled around the country, Wolverhampton is no better or worse than comparable sized cities. Throw out all the internet polls, all the negative stereotyping. We do have issues in Wolverhampton, with crime, drugs, homelessness. The recent BBC3 ‘Drugs Map of Britain’ programme, ‘Wolverhampton: Getting Off Mamba‘ (click the link to watch if you missed it) was an eye opener to many, but simply went on to reinforce the negative stereotypes of those quick to put the city down.
The truth is simple. If Wolverhampton is to improve, it will take Wulfrunians all pulling together and making the most of the city to do it. No over reliance on the government, the council, the police. It will take a big slice of the 249,000 of us here to change perceptions and it starts with talking our city up.
Unfortunately, we’ll start with a recent negative.
What can we say about this image? Lots of police. A car was just feet away from running into door staff at the Billy Wright pub on Princess Street. If it wasn’t for a lamp post, the car would have ploughed right into the front of the pub – which was reasonably busy (as you’d expect early on a Friday evening). Word on the street at the time was that the driver intentionally aimed for the pub. Whether this is true or just talk is unknown and will no doubt be revealed further down the line.
So, a sign of trouble in Wolverhampton.
And now, on the following Friday, the opposite. People coming together to protest, alongside Wolverhampton’s homeless community, in an effort to raise the profile of the plight of homeless people.
#MarchWithTheHomeless, organised by local man, Ben Aldred, provided a platform for people to show solidarity with homeless people.
Just two very different events a week apart in Wolverhampton that serve to highlight the fluid comings and goings of a modern city in England – both good and bad.
Our area offers us much of what we need – the benefits of an urban centre and the many healthy advantages of our countryside borders. We’re also lucky in that we have some excellent pubs within reach of our many country paths, both within Wolverhampton and linking the South Staffordshire villages that surround us. For this reason and to provide the opportunity for locals to enjoy both, we’ve launched our ‘Wolverhampton Paths & Pubs’ group on Facebook.
Paths & Pubs is an informal group open to all who enjoy both outdoor walking and using our wonderful selection of pubs. Not only will this group benefit the health of those involved, it will assist in pub preservation.
West Wulf invites all with an interest to contact us and, if you are a Facebook user, please join the group and get involved – we already have well over one hundred members, with people sharing their walk ideas, pictures and routes.
Too many people rely on transport these days. Years ago, people had no option other than to walk. Walking carries many benefits – some obvious, such as improvement to physical health. Others not so plain to see – walking in the countryside has been proven to improve psychological well being.
If you already enjoy walking, you’ll know all about public rights of way in the countryside, bridleways and so on. For those of you who don’t, well, read on.
An overview from gov.uk reads as below:
You have the right to access some land for walking or certain other leisure activities.
- use public roads and pavements or public rights of way, eg footpaths or bridleways
- use your right to roam on open access land including mountains, moors, heaths, downs, common land and some land around the England Coast Path
If neither of these apply, you may still be able to access private land if either:
- the landowner has given permission (‘permissive access’)
- there’s a local tradition, or right, of access
Basically, there are footpaths that run through the countryside that are accessible to walkers (some – bridleways & byways are also accessible to horse riders, cyclists and so on, we won’t cover this but you can read more here). How do you find these footpaths? Well the obvious clue is in looking for the signs, as below.
You can purchase walkers maps – or a decent Ordnance Survey map of your area will show footpaths. Staffordshire Council host a wonderful map on their website, which allows you to look for rights of way in your part of Staffordshire. They are colour coded by type and the map allows zooming in to a good degree to search. The map doesn’t include Wolverhampton, but Wolverhampton’s borders with Staffordshire are included.
There is also the Bing maps Ordnance Survey layer, which you can select to see rights of way.
A walking project
We’re going to look at putting together a walking project for the West Wulf area and beyond.
The aim will be to get people together for purposes of physical and psychological well being, to attempt to learn to appreciate the countryside around us, to use some of our neglected rights of way (some are overgrown through lack of use) and finally, to socialise – the final destination of a walk where possible should be a local pub or cafe, which we will support by giving them business.
Interested? Contact us and let us know.
More information on walking in general can be found below:
We’re only a week into 2016, but life can take its toll – we all need a holiday, right? But when time or money doesn’t allow and we need to remove ourself from a situation – holistic businesses come in. And we’re lucky enough in Wolverhampton to have one that provides a multitude of services and offers perfect way to unwind and focus on your well being.
We caught up with Kerry Jagpal, Chief Executive Officer of Hands On Holistics Professional Therapies for a look at the services they offer and her motivation behind setting up a holistic therapy business.
“We should learn to first care for ourselves before we can care for others”
KJ: “There are a few ways in which people can book with us. We’ve got an enquiry form on our website, you can find us on Facebook and drop us a message or alternatively, you can always give us a call.
We are based in Wolverhampton, just a 5 minute drive from the M54 J2 island and a 10 minute drive from the town centre. There is a private off road car park just outside of the treatment rooms and we do have disabled access.”
What stops Wulfrunians coming into Wolverhampton centre? Why do they often favour out of town shopping centres like Bentley Bridge?
Two main reasons come into play, the obvious one is the quality of the shops – Bentley Bridge has the majority of the big players in large units. It has restaurants, bowling and a cinema. The other is parking. Bentley Bridge offers a huge amount of free parking directly opposite its retail offering. Wolverhampton will soon be getting a Debenhams, has Beatties, Marks & Spencer, Boots & BHS along with a large amount of excellent independent stores and small business – but a continual gripe (as seen on countless letters to newspapers & comments on internet articles and forums) is the lack of decent free parking in the city centre.
Like it or not, many people want the most convenient way to shop – they want to drive in, park near the shops at little cost, have a good selection of stores to visit and finally take the short trip back to the car.
Wolverhampton’s centre – the area inside the Ring Road, is quite compact and doesn’t boast a massive amount of parking. Much of what it does have costs and also takes up a lot of space – prime land that could be used to tempt in investors. The City of Wolverhampton Council is working with this idea – the Westside project will see the Salop Street car park area marketed and eventually built upon. We are of the belief that projects like Westside are certainly needed if we’re to bring shoppers back to Wolverhampton city centre. But we can’t rely on prospective shoppers all walking, cycling or using public transport to access the centre. Like it or not, many people want the most convenient way to shop – they want to drive in, park near the shops at little cost, have a good selection of stores to visit and finally take the short trip back to the car. The concern with using car park space for new construction is you further limit parking options.
As park of the Wolverhampton Future Project, we’re thinking outside the box and playing with new concepts and we invite you to join us. Modern, green – environmentally friendly, multi-storey car parks. A good example being National Grid’s headquarters at Warwick, which has ‘living walls’ – the outside of the car park features garden walls of predominantly native plant species, many of them evergreen (so it looks attractive in winter too). The green wall incorporates Mentha – a wasp deterrent as well as plants that attract butterflies and bees, also providing nesting areas for birds. As well as turning the city green, the car park would also improve city centre air (absorbing carbon dioxide, releasing oxygen).
Pedestrian bridges linking the centre with car parks strategically located immediately alongside the outside of the Ring Road would provide easy access for shoppers and decrease vehicle traffic inside the centre.
The city centre would benefit from two or three new car parks – and rather than take valuable space within the Ring Road, space on the outer edge of the Ring Road could be utilised with pedestrian / cycle bridges running from the car parks over the Ring Road and into the city centre.
This would limit the need for cars to enter the area inside the Ring Road – something that the City of Wolverhampton Council is pushing for with increased pedestrianisation of the city centre. Pedestrian bridges linking the centre with car parks strategically located immediately alongside the outside of the Ring Road would provide easy access for shoppers and decrease vehicle traffic inside the centre.
All we need is investment..