New lease of life for former Co-op store

A former Central England Co-op supermarket in Staffordshire, earmarked for a major retail development is currently being utilised to support the work of a children’s charity – while also being given a makeover by a renowned local street artist.

The designs on the former Ninan Way store
The designs on the former Ninan Way store

The site in Ninian Way, Wilnecote, Tamworth is set to be transformed into a brand-new retail and trade destination creating hundreds of local jobs with the likes of Lidl, B&M, KFC and Starbucks signed up.

However, while preparatory work continues for the development the opportunity arose to utilise the former supermarket building to support the vital work of Newlife, the charity for disabled children, with urgently needed retail and ancillary storage space.

Alongside the charity’s offering of clothing for men, women and children, and with homeware lines at low prices, Central England Co-op has enlisted a street artist.

Simon Wingfield, known as Wingy, is adapting graffiti that has found its way on to the empty store since its closure with locally significant designs, as well as promoting Newlife while it makes use of the site.

He said: “I live two minutes from the site and was an old customer so have kept an eye on the development since it closed.

"I’m a professional street artist working up and down the country working with councils and in education and I know how it gives communities a buzz when they see artwork go up to transform unloved spaces.

“I got in touch with Central England Co-op to offer my services as it’s a great opportunity for me to do what I do everywhere else but on my own doorstep to give it a bit of life.

“Hopefully it will spark some interest in the local community, and they will appreciate the local significance of the work and find it something interesting to look at as they visit Newlife and walk past the site.”

Christian Gregory, Asset Manager at Central England Co-op, said the Society was delighted to work with Simon and to give vital support to Newlife, its former corporate charity partner.

He said: “While we prepare to bring the exciting new retail development to our former Ninian Way supermarket site, we are delighted to work with Simon who has such a connection to the area, to offer the space for his sensational street art.

“We are also happy to have the opportunity to support our former corporate charity Newlife who are utilising the vacant building as a short-term measure to provide them with much-needed retail and ancillary storage space to boost their vital work supporting disabled and terminally ill children in our communities.”

The temporary Newlife store will be open to the public from Thursday, 22 July and will then be open Wednesday-Saturday 10am-5.30pm and Sunday 11am-4pm.

Sheila Brown, CEO of Newlife, said: “This a fantastic opportunity to work with Central England Co-op and put a space to use that would be lying empty during this period – while at the same time offering clothes that would otherwise go to landfill a second chance at life."

The progress of ‘Wingy’s’ work on the Ninian Way site can be followed on his Instagram page at www.instagram.com/wingy.uk

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