Impact on apartments plan unclear after fire ravages old leatherworks
Council bosses in Walsall say it is unclear whether a suspected arson attack on a derelict building will impact on a plan to create more than 200 luxury apartments on the site.
Firefighters battled the huge blaze at locally listed Greatrex House in Navigation Street for hours after it broke out just before 5pm on Tuesday.
More than 30 people in neighbouring apartments had to be evacuated and placed in temporary accommodation overnight by the local authority as a result of the fire.
Police have confirmed the incident is being treated as arson attack but so far no arrests have been made. There have been no reported injuries from the incident.
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Fire chiefs are assessing whether the building now needs to be demolished but it was due to be torn down anyway as part of proposals for a major residential complex.
In January, planners gave the green light for Total Homes and Developments to create the 222 one and two bed apartment complex in place of Argyle Works, William House and the 19th century Greatrex House based on the corner of Navigation Street and Marsh Street.
A Walsall Council spokesman said: “Walsall Council can confirm that Greatrex House is part of the site approved in January 2019 for the housing development known as Saddlers Quay.
“Our immediate focus is on public safety and support to people affected in the area; at this early stage the Council is not in a position to comment on what effect the fire, if any, will have on the development.”
The apartment scheme is situated near the Walsall Wharf development that houses the New Art Gallery and the approved plan also features 90 car parking spaces and new landscaping.
Upon permission being granted, council bosses hailed the development as a major boost for the area as the buildings had been subject to previous arson attacks, vandalism and concerns over rough sleepers staying in them.
The applicants first submitted a scheme for more than 300 apartments in 2017. A scaled-back proposal for 236 flats was later put forward before the final application for 222 properties was agreed.