Wolverhampton clamps down on high street vacancies

23rd February 2024 | Jack Oliver

The City of Wolverhampton Council has launched a task force aimed at bringing empty commercial properties back into use.

Wolverhampton currently has over £2.6bn worth of investment on-site or in the pipeline in the city centre, linked to developments led by both private and public sector partners.

The Vacant Properties Taskforce will look to work with the owners of vacant buildings that neighbour these developments to bring them back into use or create a better general environment.

Extra resources dedicated to the task force will also aid the council in tackling vacant properties in district centres such as Bilston, Wednesfield, and Tettenhall.

The move comes as the City of Wolverhampton Council undertakes a new five-year events strategy aimed at increasing footfall, fuelled by the successful reopening of concert venue The Halls Wolverhampton.

Included in the strategy is the creation of thousands of new homes, grant programmes to support businesses, the development of a sustainable low carbon transport network, and the acceleration of full fibre roll out and mobile connectivity.

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 task force will continue the council’s existing work that has seen a number of sites cleaned up and developed for similar or alternative uses. It will look to work proactively with owners, offering free advice on planning, investment and business support.

Owners of untidy land and buildings will be required to properly maintain their property, with the council potentially using enforcement powers against unresponsive owners.


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