Councillor Phil Bateman today welcomed this initiative.
Saying that “it was a sign of the new found confidence that the City was displaying as it bid to attract new enterprise and jobs to the City.”
Plans to regenerate the City of Wolverhampton have been given a major boost following news that the City of Wolverhampton Council has taken action to buy a landmark development site.
Former Sainsbury’s at St George’s Parade
St George’s Parade, on the eastern side of the city centre, is a key strategic gateway that forms part of the City Centre Area Action Plan (AAP). It occupies a highly prominent position next to the ring road, 250 metres from the city’s main shopping centre and train station.
Receivers had marketed the site inviting offers over £13 million. The City of Wolverhampton Council’s £13.1 million bid to buy the freehold to the former Sainsbury’s site has now been accepted by the receivers, subject to the exchange of contracts set for the middle of next month.
Tim Johnson, Strategic Director for Place, said: “We felt compelled to act to protect the site and to bring new development, jobs and opportunities to the area. By acquiring the St George’s Parade site, we’re building on our wider strategic regeneration plans for the city centre.
“Whilst Sainsbury’s do not own the site, they’re tied into a long term lease paying a significant amount a year to the owner for the next 9 years. We will be having discussions with them to see if we can agree a settlement figure which benefits all parties. Obviously, this will also significantly reduce the cost to the council.
“We were concerned that someone would come along and leave the site unused for the next decade. That simply wasn’t an acceptable position for us. We have ambitious plans, as part of a wider strategy, to regenerate the heart of our city as you can see from the delivery of developments at i10, the train station and the exciting plans for Westside.
“By investing in this site we are able to better protect the Westside development by ensuring that future investment complements the offer that will be developed there.
“Our medium term plan is to get in there and kick start regeneration and to market it to potential investors and developers. Hopefully, given improving market conditions, we should see a return on our capital investment through longer term receipts.
“It’s important to point out that this is a capital investment, money we have borrowed at very preferential rates to do this. It does not affect the council’s day to day operational budgets for things like education, road repairs and social care.
“Until we’ve sorted the future use of the site, our investment will see an ongoing return. However, we can’t lose sight of the bigger picture and the massive dividend for the City of Wolverhampton in terms of regeneration, jobs and growth.
“The City of Wolverhampton Council has an important role to play in the city’s regeneration and this opportunity to invest and make the city centre better for local people and businesses drove our thinking. We know that local residents tell us that the regeneration of the city centre is one of their top priorities and seeing the visible signs of change helps to boost their opportunities and pride in our city.”