Express & Star

Five ways to improve Wolverhampton's flagging city centre

Five steps to improving Wolverhampton's city centre have been outlined after residents said they struggled to think of anything positive to say about it.

Last updated
Dudley Street, Wolverhampton city centre

The suggestions were presented to members of Wolverhampton Business Forum as part of a study into ways to revitalise the area.

The study was financed by leading businessman Henry Carver, who has spent £30,000 hiring experts from planning consultants Tibbalds and The Retail Group

A panel including West Midlands elected mayor Andy Street, Wolverhampton North East MP Jane Stevenson and former MP Rob Marris took questions from the audience, which included Tim Johnson, chief executive of Wolverhampton Council.

They were told that the city had many positive attributes, particularly relating to its history and shopping centres, but these often went unrecognised because they were poorly promoted.

Visitors arriving at the railway station were put off by the shabby approach to the centre of the city, and experiences of anti-social behaviour, the consultants added.

However, five ways to improve the city centre experience were put forward. They are:

Improve the experience for existing customers

Declutter and deep-clean approach routes

Add more greenery and trees

Encourage more seating and chairs outside shops as well as cafes and restaurants

Window-dress the main routeways, streets and premises

Enforcement against visible deterrents to visitors – beggars, dope smokers, street drinkers, amplified religious orators and 'miscellaneous vagabonds'

Improve the appeal to traditional customers

More family-friendly events and themed markets

More community, social and sporting events in city centre

More for workers and disenfranchised residents, targeting the 'lost 50 per cent'

Encourage more city centre living

Encourage destination visitors to use more of the city centre

Better connections between different attractions, with improved signs

Linked promotions for different activities

Make it easy for visitors to become customers by encouraging them to stay longer

Make better use of existing assets

Publish a trading opportunities prospectus to target new businesses

Draw up a plan for empty units, including long-term and short-term uses for unused buildings

More pop-up retailers, events markets, and street-food halls, art trails, concerts and Budapest-style 'ruin bars'

More marketing and promotion of the city centre

Develop a city centre brand that will be used by all

Better signposting and distinctive Wulfrunian branding

More external visibility of what the shopping centres have to offer, and overpower the negative images with better promotion of the positives