Council chief: Drop price so we can redevelop eye infirmary
The leader of Wolverhampton Council has revealed there is interest in the city's derelict eye infirmary – but says the trust that owns it may need to reduce the asking price for any deal to go through.
Councillor Roger Lawrence says he is 'desperate' to see a new development on the boarded up Compton Road site, which to his 'enormous frustration' has been empty for 10 years and is a regular target for arsonists and vandals.
The city council is currently locked in a courtroom battle with the site's owners, the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, who it says has failed to meet deadlines set to maintain it properly.
Mr Lawrence said the council has been sounded out by 'parties' interested in taking over the plot, and says 'a residential solution would be excellent'.
However, one big stumbling block stands in the way of any redevelopment.
"I would really like to see this issue resolved by Christmas and I am confident that we are heading in the right direction," he said.
"One of the problems is that they [the trust] think it is worth rather more than it actually is. The actual value of the site might be a positive figure, or it might be zero, but in my opinion they are holding out for a certain amount that may well be unrealistic."
The current value of the 2.5 acre site is complicated by the fact that its buildings are severely damaged and riddled with asbestos.
Developers McCarthy and Stone are believed to have considered a deal of around £1 million for the site in 2016, but ditched plans to build a retirement flats complex there following plot surveys.
Mr Lawrence added: "It is an old building and as with many buildings of its age, there are issues with asbestos and with maintenance.
"It is costing them [the trust] a fortune in security.
"Whoever develops it has got to make a profit, so the price must be right."
The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust has been contacted for a response.