The council-owned site of the old Oxley Day Training Centre in Probert Road – currently a vacant asset – closed six years ago and has been a magnet for anti-social behaviour ever since.
Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal, cabinet member for City Assets and Housing, told a meeting of full council this week that the development would create 171 construction jobs and five apprentice jobs.
“This project will offer the residents of Oxley and the wider area a state-of-the-art health facility and new apartments. These new homes will be built as part of a government scheme called self and custom build – a first for Wolverhampton and a first for the Black Country,” he said.
“This will help those struggling to get on the ladder with a kickstart, by letting them build their own homes, making it more affordable.
“The first steps will be the demolition of the existing buildings to clear the site, which has blighted the area and been an attraction for anti-social behaviour.”
Councillor Gakhal moved the motion which was seconded by Councillor Susan Roberts.
The chamber earlier heard from fellow Oxley councillor Adam Collinge, who put forward a series of amendments to the plans. However, members later voted against the proposals.
Councillor Collinge had requested that the council undertake a full community consultation, retain a commitment to managing and securing the site in all its forms and work with neighbouring landowners to address mutual concerns.
“The local community has had to put up with a lot since the council closed the day centre a year ago,” he said. “When I was elected last year the site was unboarded, unsecured and appeared minimally monitored.
“I remember touring the inside of the building where graffiti was present – much of it racist – along with smashed windows, broken glass, attempted fires and evidence of drug taking.
“It was in a terrible state. But what was more surprising was the fact that the building hadn’t been fully cleared at that point. There was still furniture, fire extinguishers and other items in it.
“This is evidence of a lack of action over the last and preceding five years. It needed better management and better planning,” he added.
Councillor Collinge’s colleague Councillor Ellis Turrell said: “I’ve got no doubt that without Councillor Collinge as a councillor in Oxley ward, this would not be happening.”
However, Councillor Susan Roberts told members that she first became aware of the site four years ago and had worked tirelessly on it. The reason it hadn’t happened sooner was because Covid took over,” she said.
The council’s deputy leader Councillor Stephen Simkins added: “I propose that we knock this Oxley casework out of the window and out of the door, because this motion does nothing. It brings no improvement to the original paper. So I’m asking that we don’t support these amendments.”
Funding for the project is expected to come from a mixture of grants, subject to confirmation of successful bids and prudential borrowing.
Around 12,600 people live in the Oxley ward and the city’s health and social care economy faces significant challenges to service a population of 280,000 with relatively high levels of deprivation and long-term health conditions.
Planning consent approval is expected in October with construction work due to begin in April 2023.