These are the Dirty Dozen – the eyesore buildings that businessman says are bringing Wolverhampton down
These are the Dirty Dozen – the eyesore buildings that businessman Henry Carver says are bringing Wolverhampton down.
Mr Carver, managing director of Carvers Building Supplies, is demanding Wolverhampton Council gets tough on property investors and landlords who allow their buildings fall into a state of disrepair.
In Wolverhampton we have got many empty stores, massive stores, that are owned by investors and speculators, and have been empty for 15 or 20 years," he told a meeting of Wolverhampton Business Forum.
"These buildings look dirty, windows are broken, there's even a tree growing in one of them.
"These are property investors, they are not domestic properties where somebody has maybe fallen on hard times and can't afford the upkeep.
"They don't deserve to have these properties."
He cited the case of Pragnesh Mogdhwadia, director of SSYS Beatties which is now in administration,, leaving a prominent building in the city in a state of limbo.
"We have got to be tougher with enforcement orders on these guys," said Mr Carver, who is president of the forum.
"If you have powers of enforcement, the council has got to put an enforcement notice on these properties.
"Then if they don't comply, the council should hire contractors to do the work, and issue them with the bill. And if they don't pay, the council should put a charge on the property so they can get their money back."
Mr Carver said the council also needed to make greater use of compulsory purchase powers, saying in many cases the properties would have a low market value given the length of time they had been vacant.
He said one of the problems was that listed buildings were exempt from business rates if they were empty, giving speculators little incentive to bring them back into use.
Mr Carver said if such buildings were clearly not viable, preservation orders should be removed and business rates imposed.
Councillor Stephen Simkins, leader of Wolverhampton Council said while the authority did not own any of the buildings in question, it was contact with the majority of their owners. They were being encouraged to bring the properties back into use.
“Where necessary, we use powers available to us to compel them to tidy up their buildings. We are pleased that the old Co-op in Lichfield Street and Darlington Street Methodist Church are set to have new life breathed into them through new private investment. We are also taking legal action on Beatties.
“Earlier this month I announced a vacant properties taskforce will be launched that will double-down on our efforts and enforce compliance if owners are unresponsive.
“Unfortunately, the council does not have powers to force a private property owner to re-use their vacant shops or buildings, and business rates that may encourage owners to act are set by central government.