Over the course of around fifteen years, Wolverhampton has changed – not quite unrecognisably, but on a scale that no doubt makes planners of similar sized large towns and small cities look on with a certain amount of envy. It’s not all been highs, with some independent start ups and high street fixtures falling by the way side, but those with enough scope and foresight to survive the increasing digitisation of the consumer world are ploughing on. Today, the much anticipated Wolverhampton Westside project has received the green light as £50 million worth of funding has been secured. Alongside the canalside quarter project at Horseley Fields and the redevelopment of the railway station, a lot is happening all at once. Let’s look at this and more in more detail.
If ever there was a catalyst for the south / western edge of Wolverhampton city centre, then this is it. With funding now secured, development work on the ambitious project can begin. Westside will consist of a multiplex cinema, bowling alley, restaurants and even a mini-golf course; the development will see the creation of a modern entertainment quarter on the land in Market Square between Salop Street and Peel Street.
Work here will no doubt prove to be a catalyst for renovation and the improvement of business corridors between here, the main shopping areas of the revitalised Mander Centre and the Wulfrun Centre and on towards the transport interchange – it should also be of benefit to Chapel Ash and Graiseley, bringing people through these areas to access what should prove to be a destination area within the ring road and providing more than enough reason for people from these areas and further afield to visit the city centre on a regular basis. A glance at the entertainment on offer at Bentley Bridge and the crowds there should hint at the potential Westside has for Wolverhampton centre – providing access and parking is sensibly planned.
Add to this the recent construction and success of the new market at nearby Snow Hill and there are more than enough reasons to head towards the south side of the city centre.
Interchange and Lichfield Street
There has been ongoing construction of one kind or another in this area for the past few years. i10 houses the Sunbeam pub and restaurant, with offices above and a branch of Superdrug on the walk towards the railway station. It’s not all rosy here however, as both Kaspa’s Desserts and Wok&Go have come and gone in the blink of an eye – maybe they were a little too early, as with redevelopment of the railway station, this thoroughfare will be increasingly used. Another reason to see increased footfall in this area is the forthcoming i9 development. Construction is due to start at the Railway Street site, currently home to a car park in front of the Prince Albert pub, and is expected to provide 50,000 square feet of prime office space in the city centre. i9 is due to be completed next year and it is hoped it will draw in a major business for use as a main or regional headquarters.
The railway station looks promising. Work is ongoing on phase 1, with the former police station knocked down, and metalwork currently going up, which will see use in Autumn of this year when complete. Phase 2 will then see the existing station knocked down and replaced by 2020, with the Midland Metro extension coming into use shortly afterwards.
A vision for this area also sees an artists mock up of an office tower at Corn Hill, something that would certainly put Wolverhampton on the map.
Nearby on Lichfield Street, the wonderful Art Deco building that houses the Moon Under Water and former O’Neills pub, is to be renovated and put to use as a Wetherspoons hotel and national museum. JD Wetherspoon are investing in the region of £7 million on the project which will drastically improve the outlook of this busy street, opposite Wolverhampton’s fabled Grand Theatre. Alongside thriving businesses such as the Hungry Bistro, The Bohemian and Zuri Coffee, Lichfield Street will continue to be a place to visit for years to come.
Just a short distance from the railway station at Horseley Fields is the proposed Wolverhampton Canalside Quarter development. This former industrial area alongside the Birmingham Main Line Canal has lain partially derelict for several years. It is hoped that around 600 new homes can be created in this area, within walking distance of the city centre in pleasant waterside surroundings – this will also improve the gateway to the city centre by rail, as trains from Birmingham bridge the canal at Horseley Fields Junction.
To the north east of Horseley Fields lies Heath Town – currently undergoing development work of its own, with 350 new homes expected to be constructed following the recent demolition of the shopping precinct and blocks at Chervil Rise.
New play areas are to be constructed and Wolverhampton Homes are looking at potential future improvements to high rise blocks in the area. As well as this, near Springfield and the old Low Level Railway Station, a new Aldi is nearing completion.
It has been known for some time, should Wolverhampton Wanderers establish themselves as a top flight club, expansion would be necessary at Molineux to increase both match-day capacity and facilities in the area.
Recently, club Managing Director Laurie Dalrymple has made an announcement at a Fans’ Parliament that the first stand at Molineux to be redeveloped would be the Steve Bull stand. Currently the oldest stand within the stadium, it was completed in 1979 as the John Ireland Stand (remember those red seats?) and should everything go to plan, development will start following the 2019 / 20 season. Phase 2 would see redevelopment of the Jack Hayward Stand, known to supporters as the South Bank. Once completed, the capacity at Molineux should be around 45 – 46,000, though a further development of the Billy Wright Stand cannot be ruled out in the future.
Dalrymple has stated that Wolves are working with City of Wolverhampton Council and the University of Wolverhampton to improve the area as a whole – this could include efforts to make the area around Molineux a destination area of its own. With independent redevelopment of the Leaping Wolf pub on Waterloo Road complete, these are the beginnings of exciting times for the Molineux area, both on and off the pitch.
We leave you with possibly our favourite video of a potential future Wolverhampton – this whets the appetite..
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.
In a couple of days, the West Wulf blog will be one year old. The idea & formation of West Wulf is five years old. Time flies! What started as a means of providing a media outlet for AFC Wulfrunians, the west Wolverhampton football club, has developed into a Wolverhampton & South Staffordshire news, events and ideas portal. We’ve reported on numerous events such as the rise of the award winning Hail to the Ale micropub in Claregate and Britain’s Best Small Community Market 2016, Make It or Bake It in Tettenhall. We’ve charted the activities of independent businesses such as Wild Bytes Cafe in Wolverhampton. We’ve provided news on the many construction projects in Wolverhampton and had a hand in gaining the west Wolverhampton Artists’ Quarter the recognition it deserves as well as highlighting the ever improving pub selection in the area. Our most popular reports have been the two sets of ‘twenty five reasons to be cheerful‘, which proves that Wulfrunians love their city and constantly seek it’s good points.
Most recently we’ve created the ‘Wolverhampton Paths & Pubs‘ group on Facebook, enabling like minded people to come together for country walking and in support of our pubs – something that also has a tie in with the new ‘Love Your Local‘ Facebook page – designed to encourage people to value, use and where needed, protect their local pubs.
We wouldn’t be here without you, people of Wolverhampton, South Staffordshire and beyond – our readers. As we begin the third month of 2016, we thought we’d lick a finger, put it in the air and see which way the wind is blowing in Wolverhampton at the moment..
Bite sized news for March 2016
There are some exciting times ahead. Work has begun on the extension and refurbishment of Wolverhampton Railway Station’s car park – raising the capacity from 450 to more than 800 long stay spaces. This will pave the way for the eventual extension of the Midland Metro and rebuild of Wolverhampton Railway Station. The entrance to the car park will also be relocated to Mill Street / Corn Hill. More information, particularly about the extension of the Midland Metro can be found here in a Proof of Evidence.
i10 is filling up. There is already a branch of Superdrug operating at Victoria Square, with a new Hungry Horse pub / restaurant, The Sunbeam, under construction. In February, it was announced that national chain Kaspa’s Desserts would be the next tenant, taking over two units within i10 – Wolverhampton will be its 31st UK branch.
Just a stroll away, City of Wolverhampton Council have announced that the Canal & River Trust has acquired the former Crane Foundry on Bailey Street, Horseley Fields for purposes of regeneration – a boost to the council’s Canalside Quarter plans.
A couple of pub openings now – Slater’s Wolverhampton opened last weekend and is proving a hit, in what must be the perfect location – right on Queen Square opposite the Prince Albert statue. In Codsall on Tuesday 22nd March, The Crown – now a Joule’s pub, will open its doors following an extensive refurbishment. Just over a week later in Wolverhampton city centre, the previously mentioned Hungry Horse restaurant, The Sunbeam, will open – scheduled for Wednesday 30th March.
Wolverhampton’s Mander Centre, although a little devoid of shops at the moment, promises to be a top shopping destination by the end of 2017. Have a look at what’s going on here.
Finally, local & national press (here & here) have reported on a Wolverhampton beggar who reportedly takes home up to £500 a day. Yes, takes home. This beggar has a house and is, if reports are correct, rich – earning only £12,000 less than Prime Minister David Cameron does annually. When you pause to consider that the average salary in Wolverhampton is only £20,000 compared to the UK average of £26,500, you will understand why some kind hearted Wulfrunians as well as genuine homeless people are a little angry.
That’s all for now! Keep reading and thank you for your support.