Anger as plans to replace landmark Wolverhampton hotel with Lidl store are approved

A once-vibrant landmark hotel in Wolverhampton – a favourite of showbiz greats in years gone by – is to be demolished and replaced with a new Lidl supermarket.

The Mercure Goldthorn Hotel is set for demolition to make way for a new supermarket
The Mercure Goldthorn Hotel is set for demolition to make way for a new supermarket

The historic former Goldthorn Hotel on Penn Road was this week condemned to the bulldozer by planning chiefs – despite almost 80 protests and a 105-signature petition from angry residents.

Lidl says the development will create 40 new full and part-time jobs and provide a major boost to the local economy.

However, the decision to demolish the building, which dates back to 1890, has sparked outrage among local conservationists, historians and city councillors.

Known as the Quality Hotel in recent years, in its heyday the venue was a popular choice for private parties and dinner theatre shows – and believed to be a favourite of showbiz stars including Bob Monkhouse and Diana Dors.

Several committee members had opposed the proposal, however, chair councillor Anwen Muston used her casting vote to push the plans through.

She said: “As a planning application, given the matters for consideration before the committee, there were no material reasons within the proposal for turning it down.

“If we had done so, Lidl would have appealed, costing the council considerable money, and they would easily have won their appeal.

“It wasn’t a matter of us not listening to residents’ concerns; it was us having to consider the matters outlined within the application.

“The only thing left to do was to move the decision from the chair, subject to conditions which were not contained in the proposal,” she added.

“These conditions will address the speed limit along Penn Road and mitigate against any traffic concerns as much as it is possible to do so on any busy main road these days.”

Speaking after hearing the news, Graiseley councillor John Reynolds, whose ward the hotel is in, said: “I am very disappointed at the loss of the Goldthorn Hotel, the loss of 28 mature trees and the upset this has caused to local residents.

“In the 70s and 80s the hotel was known as one of the smartest in the town and I have very fond memories of going to several posh parties there. I never saw anyone famous but always hoped I would. Sadly that is all there will be now – memories.”

Although not listed, the building was once the residence of John Rollings, director of Star Cycles, Cars and Commercial Vehicles, and vice-president and benefactor of the Royal Wolverhampton School from 1894 to 1909.

Leader of the Conservative group Councillor Wendy Thompson, who sits on the planning committee, said: “The Goldthorn Hotel is a historic part of the local community and I’m sure its loss will be felt deeply.

“The Conservative members on the planning committee carefully considered the plans put before it and on balance decided to vote against.

“Ultimately, it was Labour votes that carried this through with the Labour chairman casting their tie-breaking vote in favour of the development.”

David Dungar, of the Wolverhampton Society, said: “This is one of few historic buildings left on this part of Penn Road. In demolishing this Victorian house we are losing one of the last references to the historic streetscape.

“We are very upset about this decision and made it clear we weren’t happy about the plans from the start.

“There is already a Tesco close by and we can’t see the need for another supermarket to be built in the area, especially with the litter and traffic problems this will cause,” he added.

The many objections raised prior to approval included concerns over increased traffic and the risk of serious accidents, a potential rise in anti-social behaviour and the need for another supermarket in that area.

Councillor Paul Birch, who represents neighbouring Blakenhall and has been pushing for more hotels in the city for a number of years, said: “When a small number of people elected to represent our community ignore nearly 80 objections, then they are no longer representing us.

“I’d be willing to bet that for everyone who objected to this, there are a hundred people who stayed silent for whatever reason. This will hit the nearby Tesco store hard and also be a massive problem for traffic on Penn Road.

“In light of this terrible decision, I think the whole planning department should be fired,” he added.

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