The council entered into an agreement with Urban&Civic in April 2017 – but due to challenging national market conditions the scheme has been delayed.
The council and Urban&Civic have been in discussions to agree this new, viable approach to kick-start Westside, which instead of being funded by Urban&Civic, will see it backed by an institutional investor, such as a pension fund. Under the new arrangements, part of the responsibility to fully occupy the scheme will sit with the council, giving it the opportunity to generate rental income from the £50 million scheme.
Westside will have significant benefits for the city centre. It will add an estimated £6.5 million a year to the local economy, bring thousands of people into the city centre, create 300 new jobs, and raise around £750,000 in business rates income on top of rental income to the council.
The development will see a multi-screen cinema, additional family leisure attractions and new restaurants covering 150,000 sq ft, and a multi-storey car park, with plans for a hotel now on hold.
Urban&Civic will now begin putting together a detailed planning application before selecting building contractors, with preparatory works to come later this year and full works starting on site within 12 months.
Philip Leech, Property Director for Urban&Civic, said:
“The agreement of City of Wolverhampton Council to support this important leisure project is a massively positive initiative.
“As a result of this decision and working closely with the council we will be able to finalise the strong occupier interest with a view to commencing on site within a year.
“This exciting scheme will bring much-needed leisure facilities to Wolverhampton city centre and in the coming weeks we will be in a position to announce the major international cinema brand that will anchor the project, as well as other well-known leisure outlets.”
Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for City Economy, added:
“Urban&Civic have an excellent track record in delivering comparable high-quality schemes in the UK, which is why we are confident in taking this new route to back it financially.
“It is a vital scheme for the City of Wolverhampton and there is general enthusiasm around Westside.
“The proposals put forward by Urban&Civic perfectly meet our expectations of a regenerated Wolverhampton and will provide a leisure offer befitting of a city.
“It forms part of the groundswell of regeneration activity across the city, where £3.7 billion of investment is on site or in the pipeline – and again shows effective working with the private sector to unlock investment capital at a time of government funding cuts for all councils.
“Westside is a critical part of how we are re-imagining and re-inventing our city centre, along with great connectivity, great public spaces, great new homes, a great leisure and sporting offer, vibrant events, outstanding arts and culture, and a thriving commercial district.
“Together, this will create new opportunities for our residents and drive greater visitor footfall to make it a city centre we can all be proud of.”
Article Credit: City of Wolverhampton Council.
Image caption: Artist’s impression of Westside.