Express & Star

Famous JB's music venue set to be demolished – fate of Dudley landmark decided this week

A public inquiry to decide the fate of one of Dudley's most well-known buildings is set for this week.

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The martial arts centre and former JB's building on Castle Hill Dudley with the now demolished Hippodrome in the background and tram line works in the foreground. Picture Google

The former JB's music venue on Castle Hill will be bought by the local authority and demolished if a planning inspector chairing the inquiry finds in favour of Dudley Council.

The council wants to buy the building, which is now a banqueting suite, plus a neighbouring martial arts centre to make way for a new education centre.

Helen Martin, Dudley Council's director of regeneration and enterprise, said: "It's important that big projects like this have the proper scrutiny and that people involved have the opportunity to help shape them.

"The process will be open and transparent and hopefully, will keep the momentum rolling towards creating a first-class higher education facility in the heart of Dudley."

The owners of the banqueting suite, at 15-21 Castle Hill, have been unwilling to do a deal with the authority so a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) was slapped on the site in July 2023.

A number of relevant objections were lodged about the CPO so a public inquiry was ordered to hear arguments in public.

The public inquiry will begin at Dudley Council House on May 14 and is expected to take two or three days.

Owners of the neighbouring martial arts centre were also unwilling to sell up and raised objections to the CPO, which included their premises, however a deal with the council now seems likely after they secured a new site at 30 Castle Hill.

The council argues bringing the university to Dudley is in the public interest and construction ‘heavily outweighs any interference to the human rights of any of the freehold/leasehold owners and business occupiers'.

The new education centre is planned to occupy a site stretching from the boundary of Dudley Zoo down to the JB's building and includes land formerly occupied by the now demolished Hippodrome Theatre.

When completed the council will lease the centre to Dudley College who, in partnership with the University of Worcester, will deliver courses in health care at what will be Dudley's first higher education college.