Brierley Hill's Waterfront complex has vibrant future, say council and business leaders
Council bosses are putting all their efforts into boosting Brierley Hill's struggling Waterfront complex.
The shopping and dining area has a "vibrant future" to become a tourist hub in Dudley, council officials have claimed.
It comes after two new bars, several start-up companies and a street food market set up shop there in the past year. But many units are still sitting empty.
Former business cabinet member, councillor Khurshid Ahmed, said The Waterfront was once a hub for night life and businesses 10 to 15 years ago – he hopes it can return to its glory days.
"The Waterfront was the place to be. There was the night life – pubs and clubs – as well as business and organisations. HMRC used to operate there, there was all sorts of offices," he said.
"The Metro will be responsible for bringing most of that stuff back to Brierley Hill.
"With the Metro coming on the scene, the Waterfront will be a different place. There's a real opportunity for this to become the hub one more time."
A real boost to the area has been the DY5 Enterprise Zone, launched in Brierley Hill two years ago, which has created more than 600 jobs during that time.
The zone is key to attracting businesses to the Waterfront, as it operates a policy that relieves firms and organisations of paying business tax for 15 years. Instead, the government pays those rates.
Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley said it spelled exciting times ahead for The Waterfront.
He said: "There has been an uplift in the number of units being rented on a long term basis at The Waterfront.
"With the introduction of the DY5 Enterprise zone, the council is doing all it can to encourage new business start ups. In the last few months there has been two new bars and several start ups.
"I believe with the opening of the new music university and increased unit take up and initiatives such as the street food market the waterfront has a vibrant future."
Ninder Johal, a board member of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, added: "Admittedly the Waterfront has, in the past, had an issue with occupancy, particularly when some of the bigger brands left.
"Now that it is an enterprise zone, we are expecting people to move in from all sectors."
A major part in regenerating the Waterfront is also the Midland Metro tram line which is set to open in 2023.
A new £9.5million music school, called Resonance, will open its doors to students in September 2020.