These are exciting times for Wolverhampton. Leader of the City Council, Roger Lawrence, has today put pen to paper, alongside other local council leaders and Chancellor George Osborne, to confirm the West Midlands Combined Authority devolution agreement. There has been a certain amount of trepidation amongst Wulfrunians – who are concerned that we are being signed up to a ‘Greater Birmingham’ without our say so, though despite suggestions that the combined authority would be named as such, the idea was dropped in June and the current West Midlands Combined Authority name was confirmed in July (despite the Birmingham Mail still using it today).Queen Square, Wolverhampton
Whether you oppose or welcome the combined authority, one thing is certain, it’s happening and as such, we look to the positives that this will bring. For a start, many local decisions will be made here in the West Midlands. Funding will be made available, not through Westminster but directly available to the West Midlands Combined Authority.
This ability to make decisions and access funding will bolster the investment that is already taking place in Wolverhampton.
Look around Wolverhampton and you will see change. Construction is visible on many streets, work is taking place in the Mander Centre. There is currently around £868 million investment planned or taking place in the city – with more than 50 developments underway at present. Work is taking place to push on with the Wolverhampton Interchange – our railway station alone, despite being in need of regeneration, sees 4.75 million passengers a year.Lichfield Street and the i10 development
There is ambition in proposed developments such as Westside, where the city centre meets the artists hub of Chapel Ash and beyond. The City of Wolverhampton Council owns much of the land here, which ultimately speeds up the process of marketing the land to investors. The Way, the new £5.5 million Youth Zone is almost complete and Heritage Lottery funding has been made available which has and will continue to see repair and enhancement of historic buildings in the city centre.
There are other projects such as the Canalside Quarter which will adjoin the Wolverhampton Interchange at Horseley Fields and see redevelopment of the former Springfield Brewery, there is the Molineux Quarter featuring the football stadium and development work taking place on new University of Wolverhampton buildings such as the £18 million business school. There’s also talk of a (much needed) large city centre cinema – possibly at the proposed Southside development.Worcester Street’s independent businesses and enhanced historic buildings
With Wolverhampton’s independent businesses doing well and other small businesses looking to move in, the area is full of opportunity and for the first time in a long while, a positive wind is blowing through the streets and folds of Wolverhampton. While a vocal minority is not yet convinced about Wolverhampton’s credentials, we get the feeling that those facilitating change in the city will soon prove that this is an area geared up for the challenges of the future.
More about the West Midlands devolution deal can be read here.
Read the City of Wolverhampton ‘New Horizons’ ebook here.