Express & Star

Concerns raised over condition of Wolverhampton's iconic Beatties building

Concerns have been raised over the condition of Wolverhampton's iconic Beatties building after the company that owns the former department store building went into receivership.

An aerial view of the former Beatties department store in Wolverhampton city centre, showing the level of dilapidation. Image: Bob Griffiths Photography

The property was sold to private investors SSYS for £3 million in February 2019 and planning permission was granted to convert it into 306 apartments in March 2021.

However, development work has since stalled and the owners have become insolvent, resulting in the site becoming untidy and run-down.

Concerns have now been raised over the upkeep and state of the premises, with the roof space uncovered leaving the interior exposed to the elements.

Graffiti has also been daubed on the hoardings used to board up the windows, and litter has been dumped in doorways around the exterior.

Earlier this week, the leader of Wolverhampton Council said his authority plans to talk to the receivers about the future of the empty building, but warned it was unlikely to step in with a rescue package.

A Wolverhampton Council spokesperson said: “The council is concerned and disappointed about the news the owner of the former Beatties building, SYSS Beatties, has gone into receivership. We are due to meet with the receiver soon to get a clear picture of its next steps in relation to this iconic building.

“The council is also exploring other potential options to help bring the site back into use and will work tirelessly with partners in the private and public sectors, including the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), to ensure this happens.

"As a key component in the city centre offer, we want to see the Beatties site being used again as quickly as possible."

The Beatties store currently stands empty. Image: Bob Griffiths Photography

Councillor Qaiser Azeem, who represents the St Peter's ward, added: “As a ward councillor, I am concerned about the condition of Beatties in the city centre. We are aware that the owner of the building has gone into receivership, which is both concerning and a great disappointment.

“The future of this iconic building has been put in doubt and the council will be meeting with the owners to get a clear picture of the current situation.

"We are also exploring other potential options to bring the site back into use again. As ward councillors, we will be working with the council to bring the Beatties premises back to life again as quickly as possible.”

Leader of the council’s conservatives, Councillor Wendy Thompson, added: “Beatties matters a lot to many residents of Wolverhampton who are very sad to see such decline and decay in a major site in the city centre.

"I would like to think the council’s leadership is better understanding now about how much people want to see some development taking place.

“I believe there is some interest being expressed around a leisure and entertainment theme. Some comment has been made in the past about residential use with some retail space on the ground floor.

“These are early days and any expressions of interest will need to be investigated and sounded out thoroughly by the administrators and the city council in order to further develop any emerging plans. Let’s hope we see something definite and beneficial moving forward."

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.