City of Wolverhampton Council’s Leader today (Friday) officially launched a taskforce aimed at bringing empty private properties back into use as part of the city centre’s ongoing transformation.

There is more than £2.6billion investment on site or in the pipeline in the city centre, linked to developments led by a wide range of public and private sector partners.

The Vacant Properties Taskforce will support these schemes by working with owners of neighbouring empty buildings to bring them back into use and create a better environment for all.

The extra resource dedicated to the taskforce will also enable the council to tackle empty properties in district centres like Bilston, Wednesfield and Tettenhall.

It will build on significant regeneration work already underway by the council.

A new 5 year events strategy to drive footfall, fuelled by the success of the reopening of The Halls Wolverhampton, is in place.

Thousands of new high quality homes are planned, creating new neighbourhoods and customers for city centre businesses.

Grant programmes are available to support eligible businesses with innovation, growth and transition to greener ways of working.

And the city is becoming better connected through the development of a sustainable, inclusive low carbon transport network and the continuing acceleration of full fibre roll out and mobile connectivity as part of a digital drive.

Council Leader, Councillor Stephen Simkins, said: “We understand the difficulties that city centres and businesses face in these challenging economic times. 

“This council will continue to do everything in its power to drive footfall and ensure we have thriving city and district centres. 

“Therefore, my administration is launching this new taskforce to tackle dishevelled, vacant commercial properties, left by landlords to blight our high streets.

“The benefits of reusing empty buildings and developing vacant sites are considerable, including the provision of new jobs and homes. It helps attract investment to an area, lifts its character and appearance, reduces anti-social behaviour and can help boost the wellbeing of residents, workers and visitors.

“The Vacant Properties Taskforce will have a mandate to monitor these buildings, ensure they are well maintained as a minimum, and look to bring some important and iconic properties back into use.”

Cherry Shine, Wolverhampton Business Improvement District (BID) Managing Director, added: “We welcome the new proactive approach the council is taking to encourage owners of vacant premises to properly maintain them and actively bring properties back into use. 

“We have seen lots of investment in our city centre, it’s only fair that those not taking full responsibility for properties in their ownership are identified and supported in bringing their premises into a good state of repair and ultimately back into use, we look forward to seeing the results.”

The taskforce will expand on existing work by the council that has seen numerous sites across the city tidied up and developed for similar or alternative uses.

It will focus on proactive engagement with owners, offering free planning, investment and business support advice.

Owners of untidy land and buildings will be required to properly maintain their property.

If owners are unresponsive, the council will utilise the enforcement powers it holds.

For contacts and advice on vacant properties, please visit Vacant Properties Taskforce.