A main gateway into the city is to be transformed after multi million pound plans to create new retail and business opportunities were given the green light.

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Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet has approved an investment of £10.6 million to develop 50,000 square feet of high quality offices and brand new retail space at the Interchange in the city centre.

Construction of the new BREEAM excellent building will be managed on behalf of the council by Neptune Projects Ltd and will be sited on land adjacent to the bus station which has been hoarded for 2 years.

The council will also purchase the existing buildings and the Queen Building adjacent to the bus station.

This plan is part of the authority's wider commitment to regenerate the city centre and create job opportunities, attract inward investment and help provide a boost for Wolverhampton in the current economic climate.

The new development, on which work is expected to start in spring 2014, will complement plans to redevelop the railway station, refurbish and extend the multi storey car park and extend the Metro to the railway station.

As well as providing brand new retail space with potential tenants already identified, the Grade A office accommodation will respond to existing demand in the city centre and will help create hundreds of new jobs as businesses locate there.

The building is anticipated to be ready for occupation by summer 2015.

Councillor Peter Bilson, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Prosperity, said: "This is a hugely significant step in our vision for the city centre.

"We remain firmly committed to delivering major projects in the city centre as outlined in the City Centre Prospectus. This investment is firm evidence of that and hopefully investors and developers will take confidence from our decision.

"In our discussions and consultations with the residents and businesses in Wolverhampton, the regeneration of the city centre is a high priority and it is up to us to lead the way in achieving that.

"This project will offer opportunities for a range of companies to set up or expand their existing operations in brand new and fit for purpose accommodation and we anticipate that around 250 jobs will be either safeguarded or created in the city centre as a result.

"We have already been contacted by businesses that require highly sustainable and energy efficient Grade A offices and this will provide them with what they are looking for. Judging from existing enquiries, we are also confident that we will let the ground floor retail and leisure units quickly.

"The Interchange is a key gateway into our city and an ideal, sustainable location for firms, something which will be enhanced further once improved transport links have been delivered."

The council's investment will be provided by additional prudential borrowing.

Councillor Bilson added: "The current economic climate is extremely tough and the authority itself is facing huge financial pressures of its own.

"While we have a responsibility to deliver a balanced budget, taking into account these pressures, we also have a duty to meet key aims and objectives and boosting confidence in regenerating our city is one of them.

"The buildings at the Interchange will provide us with a valuable long term asset while also helping kick start our economy.

"We are working hard to attract investment from the private sector but we cannot expect them to do this alone and it is vital we prove that we have the confidence in our city by putting our money where our mouth is.

We already have Jaguar Land Rover investing £550 million in a new engine plant in the north of the city with huge supply chain opportunities being generated. In the city centre, the University of Wolverhampton has embarked on a multi million programme of investment in consolidating its Campus and the council is about to start on site with the first phase of a £5 million transport and movement improvement programme. We are determined to maintain this positive momentum in the transformation of our city".

  • released: Wednesday 25 September, 2013