Express & Star

New 'vacant property taskforce' aims to bring Wolverhampton's empty buildings back to life

A council leader today officially launched a new 'vacant property taskforce' to bring Wolverhampton's empty buildings back to life.

Last updated
Cherry Shine, Wolverhampton Business Improvement District MD, and Councillor Stephen Simkins, Wolverhampton Council leader, outside the vacant old post office building in Lichfield Street

There is more than £2.6 billion investment on site or in the pipeline in the city centre, linked to developments led by a wide range of public and private sector partners.

The vacant properties taskforce will support these schemes by working with owners of neighbouring empty buildings to bring them back into use.

The extra resource dedicated to the taskforce will also enable the council to tackle empty properties in district centres like Bilston, Wednesfield and Tettenhall.

Wolverhampton City Council leader Stephen Simkins, said: “We understand the difficulties that city centres and businesses face in these challenging economic times.

“This council will continue to do everything in its power to drive footfall and ensure we have thriving city and district centres.

“Therefore, my administration is launching this new taskforce to tackle dishevelled, vacant commercial properties, left by landlords to blight our high streets."

Councillor Simkins added: “The benefits of reusing empty buildings and developing vacant sites are considerable, including the provision of new jobs and homes. It helps attract investment to an area, lifts its character and appearance, reduces anti-social behaviour and can help boost the wellbeing of residents, workers and visitors.

“The vacant properties taskforce will have a mandate to monitor these buildings, ensure they are well maintained as a minimum, and look to bring some important and iconic properties back into use.”

Cherry Shine, Wolverhampton Business Improvement District (BID) managing director, added: “We welcome the new proactive approach the council is taking to encourage owners of vacant premises to properly maintain them and actively bring properties back into use.

“We have seen lots of investment in our city centre, it’s only fair that those not taking full responsibility for properties in their ownership are identified and supported in bringing their premises into a good state of repair and ultimately back into use, we look forward to seeing the results.”

The taskforce will expand on existing work by the council that has seen numerous sites across the city tidied up and developed for similar or alternative uses.

It will focus on proactive engagement with owners, offering free planning, investment and business support advice.

Owners of untidy land and buildings will be required to properly maintain their property.

If owners fail to respond, the council can take enforcement action.