Calls to bring Wolverhampton's Beatties site back into use after plans stall
Calls to bring Wolverhampton’s iconic former Beatties site back into use have been made to council bosses, after ambitious plans to convert the property into a mixture of luxury apartments and retail units stalled.
The building was sold to private investors for £3 million in February 2019 and planning permission was granted for the redevelopment. However, work has stopped and the site has become untidy and run-down.
First opened by James Beattie in 1877, the historic department store was a popular and well-known landmark in Wolverhampton and attracted hundreds of thousands of shoppers every year at its peak.
The council has now served an enforcement notice requiring the owners to tidy the site, and is exploring options to get its redevelopment back on track.
Councillor Wendy Thompson, leader of the city’s Conservative group said: “I accept that the site is in private ownership, but would like to see some practical points in relation to exactly how the council is going to work to ensure that the site is brought back into proper viable use as an important location in the city centre which, at the moment, is causing nothing but a blight.
“There are a lot of people who are not coming anywhere near the centre of Wolverhampton because they don’t see the point.
"That site is extremely important, so I want to see some practical points on what the council is going to do about it, particularly if the court order isn’t successful.”
Leader of the council, Councillor Stephen Simkins, said: “The former Beatties building is privately owned and the council doesn’t own it.
"The owners were given planning permission for a mixed-use scheme consisting of apartments and commercial units. They started implementing the scheme but have now stopped work.
“Furthermore, the owners have failed to maintain the building and keep it in a tidy condition.
"So the council has served an enforcement notice requiring them to tidy up the building, and if they do not comply, we will begin proceedings to prosecute.
“The council is also considering its available options in order to bring the site back into use, and will work with the current owners should they choose to continue with the development and prove that is the case. When we get the findings we can report back further.
“We have to go through a due legal process but of course we want the Beatties site back being used as it’s iconic for the city centre so all our efforts will be there.
"It’s a key component of the city centre offer and was sold to a private developer, but obviously we want to see it being used."