New theatre venue on way as Wolverhampton Council seizes old Post Offices
Work is set to start on the Grand Theatre’s expansion plans as council bosses moved to seize control of the city’s old post office.
The building on Lichfield Street is set to be bulldozed and a new venue The Green Room built in its place.
It will host exhibitions, classes and concerts and will be available for use by local community groups.
It comes after Wolverhampton Council used its Compulsory Purchase Order powers to buy the building off the owners, saying the site was a key part of the city’s regeneration plans.
Theatre bosses had a planning application approved for the plot in March, which detailed a £3 million project to kick-start plans for a Lichfield Street Arts Hub.
Councillor Harman Banger, the council’s economy chief, said: “This site on one of our key city centre streets has been left unused for far too long.
“The Wolverhampton Grand Theatre has put in place bold plans to bring a major uplift to the city centre’s entertainment offer.
“We are re-imagining and re-inventing our city centre and an outstanding arts and culture offer enticing new audiences and visitors is a fundamental part of that.”
Theatre bosses say the site is key to plans to make Lichfield Street “the arts hub” of the city centre.
Under the plans it will serve as a conventional 200-seat “pop-up” theatre, while seats will be removable, meaning it can be easily transformed into an exhibition or performing arts space.
The theatre is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Earlier this year they entered talks with the building’s owner over a deal to buy it but no agreement was ever reached.
Phil Barnett, chairman of Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, said: “A vibrant arts and culture scene is vital for any regeneration plans and the extension of the iconic Grand Theatre would play a huge part in the exciting and ambitious plans for Wolverhampton city centre.
“I would like to thank the council for recognising and supporting our aspirations for the future.”
Initial plans for The Green Room have been designed by international architect Keith R Williams, whose previous work includes the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury and London’s Unicorn Theatre.
The building served as the city’s main post office until November 2013, when it closed down and moved to a new site over the road.
It has been empty since, despite a number of plans for redevelopment being proposed.
It comes as Wetherspoon prepares to carry out a £7m makeover of The Moon Under Water pub on the opposite side of the street, which will host its national museum and a 70-bedroom hotel.
Meanwhile, Lichfield Street is set to be pedestrianised as part plans to link the city’s transport interchange and the Westside scheme.
The proposed Westside Link will see existing roads paved over and the creation of events areas and street cafes, as well as a new public plaza in Victoria Street.
Main building work is expected to start in January, with the project set to be completed by March 2021.