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£30m Mander Centre revamp backed by Wolverhampton chiefs

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

The £30million transformation of Wolverhampton's city centre Mander shopping centre has been given the go ahead.

The redevelopment, which includes the creation of a new Debenhams store, was unanimously backed by councillors at a meeting.

Councillor John Rowley told yesterday's planning committee: "This is really good news for the city. We have been waiting an awfully long time for a major retailer and now we must make sure that the retailer really embraces the potential."

The new Debenhams store is poised to create at least 120 new jobs in the city.

Speaking after the meeting, regeneration chief Councillor Peter Bilson said: "This is a hugely significant and extremely exciting development for our city centre.

"The transformation of the Mander Centre will provide a huge boost and greatly support efforts to attract major national stores to the city.

"Not only will it attract extra footfall to a greatly enhanced centre, it will also help increase trade for businesses in the surrounding area.

"We are committed to regenerating Wolverhampton, increasing prosperity and creating opportunities for all and Mander's plans certainly support that."

The development will see the demolition of the south western corner of the centre fronting Bell Street and replaced by a new 8,360sq metre department store which will house the Debenhams store that is expected to open in 2017.

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Further work will see a number of smaller existing shop units being replaced by larger ones along with the construction of a new retail kiosk fronting Woolpack Alley and the refurbishment of the existing mall.

Steve Burgin, retail asset manager at Delancey, the company that owns the centre, welcomed approval of the scheme and said: "We were very keen to get the permission and think it will be great for the city. It also gives us more certainty in the development.

"This will put Wolverhampton city centre back on the retail map and hopefully spur on other new retailers to join them. You need to put out the line to catch the mackerel and Debenhams is the bait."

But not everybody was delighted by the project.

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Planning consultant Lawrence Holmes told the planning committee he thought the proposal fell 'woefully short' in both pedestrian access and design. He added: "It reminds me of the worst kind of 1960's urban design. All that is needed to correct this is a bit of imagination."

The revamp was announced in February, with confirmation that Debenhams would be the flagship department store coming at the end of April.

The Mander Centre is currently up for sale with a price tag of £50m but bosses insist this will not impact on the redevelopment.

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