Funding boost for Wolverhampton Arts Park, markets and technical centre

Plans for an Arts Park by the Grand Theatre, the City Learning Quarter's new technical centre and improvements to markets will all be part-funded by a £25 million pot from Wolverhampton's Town Deal Board.

Grand Theatre
Grand Theatre

Other schemes set to benefit from the £25m handed out as part of the Government's Towns Fund include supporting the 5G rollout, Wolves at Work employment programme, events city development, public realm work in Wolverhampton city centre, and the Canalside residential development scheme - Brewers Yard, National Brownfield Institute.

The funding, handed out by the Government in March, will help deliver transformational schemes across the city centre, Bilston and Wednesfield.

The plans focus on five core themes: employment and skills, changing perceptions of the city, regeneration and renewal, connectivity (digital and transport) and vibrancy and footfall.

Schemes that will be part-funded through the plan include improvements to Bilston market, improvements to Wednesfield market, High Street and canal area, city centre public realm works on Lichfield Street and the City Learning Quarter masterplan’s new technical centre at City of Wolverhampton College’s Wellington Road, Bilston campus.

Benefits

The detailed plans for all schemes will now be submitted to Government, with a view to a phased programme of works starting later this year.

It is hoped an Arts Park will go in the former post office building next to the theatre and help to support its work in the community. It will be used for things like community events, outreach work and small shows.

City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, added: “The Arts Park is a bold move to bring a major uplift to the Grand Theatre and the city centre’s cultural offer. The Town Deal Board is delighted to provide some of the funding towards this exciting scheme, which is still being developed.

"We are re-imagining and re-inventing our city centre and an outstanding arts and culture offer enticing new audiences and visitors is a fundamental part of that.

“After a year of uncertainty caused by the pandemic, this is another step towards delivering the wider ambitions of the theatre as it looks to bounce back and build upon its thriving community, educational and cultural offer.”

The cash comes after Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden visited the Grand Theatre last month to announce cultural Recovery Fund cash totalling more than £500,000 for the theatre.

Chairman of the Wolverhampton Town Deal Board, Ninder Johal, said: “We had an excellent meeting on Friday where the board agreed how to best make use of the £25m funding we have been given to ensure it generates as many jobs, apprenticeships, learning opportunities and new homes as possible.

“The final plans will reshape all three areas – benefitting residents, businesses and visitors in the city centre, Bilston and Wednesfield.”

Leader of the council, Councillor Ian Brookfield, added: “This funding is important to helping relight our city after the impact of the pandemic.

“It will support the development of the city centre and the two town centres and key partners from across the political and business spectrum have agreed this as the best way to spend the money following a vote.

“We will ensure none of the projects in our original bid get left behind and it is now our collective job to secure additional funding to deliver the projects the board has identified to reshape the city centre, Bilston and Wednesfield.

“This contributes to the £4.4billion of investment on site or planned across Wolverhampton, which is delivering jobs and homes for city residents.”

The Towns Fund was announced by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in September 2019 when 100 places, including Wolverhampton, were invited to develop proposals for a multi-million-pound Town Deal.

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