The Government announced in February 2022 that Wolverhampton and Sheffield would be the first of 20 cities to benefit from part of £1.5billion of Levelling Up funding for new infrastructure to be developed on brownfield land to boost housing and jobs.
The aim of the £32.2million Bilston scheme is to deliver a new state-of-the-art Health and Wellbeing Hub in the town that brings together a number of partners and providers from the NHS, Social Care and Wellbeing and Leisure sectors to support around 18,000 patients.
The hub will be an anchor within the community investing in early intervention and prevention, giving access to a campus that builds resilience, integrates and transforms primary and community services and brings care closer to people's homes - connecting people, communities and place.
It will be located in the centre of the town next to WV Active Bilston-Bert Williams, bringing people into the town centre – and connecting to extensive public space improvements and Bilston’s public transport hub.
The Levelling Up bid also includes improvement works to the town’s popular markets to build on investment already secured through the Towns Fund.
Changes to the markets will include public environment improvements, additional event space, and a new taxi drop-off and bike hub close to the bus station and tram stop. Public spaces will also benefit from enhanced landscaping.
A new ‘pocket park’ will be developed between the Black Country Route and Church Street providing a venue that will allow for street food and music, a place to enjoy improved open space, and the option for experiential activities to support wellbeing and mental health and community integration - enhancing the retail core of the town centre.
The pocket park will be one stop on an active travel walking and cycling route that will feature additional planting, lighting, trees, benches, and the refurbishment of existing public art pieces, running from the new Health and Wellbeing Hub to the town centre.
City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said: “The Bilston Health and Regeneration Programme will deliver major benefits in the town to support the programme of investment delivered in this locality by the council and key partners over several years.
“This facility will be located where it can benefit the town the most, right in the centre, making it highly accessible, underpinned by investment in public realm and connectivity.
“We want our traditional local centres to flourish, and our Levelling Up bid includes plans to improve Bilston’s markets - building on investment already secured through the Towns Fund.”
Pat McFadden, Wolverhampton South East MP, added: “If successful, this bid will benefit the people of Bilston through adding a major new health and wellbeing facility and improving and modernising Bilston market which is at the heart of the local retail economy. Health inequalities are a major issue In Wolverhampton and across the country. These inequalities were exposed by the experience of Covid. Improving health and wellbeing is a big part of making levelling up work. This bid can help us do that."
Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said: “This bid will support the vitality and growth of one of our local centres which has suffered significantly over the pandemic but continues to play such a vital part in its community accessing goods and services.
“It will support a strong, vibrant, healthy and inclusive town centre which forms an essential part of the West Midlands’ economy and social fabric.
“The scheme will significantly enhance the lives of those living and visiting Bilston by concentrating and co-locating new services and uses whilst investing in the existing traditional retail offer.”
A decision on Levelling Up Round 2 funding allocations is expected to be announced this October.
The remaining funding required for the overall Bilston programme will be made up of £5.2million from the Towns Fund, plus Council and partner contributions.