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YMCA to breathe new life into former Wolverhampton city centre Co-op in £6m revamp

Staffordshire | News | Published:

The YMCA has unveiled a £6 million plan to revitalise an empty city centre building opposite the Grand Theatre.

However the plans for the site no longer feature the city's Central Youth Theatre, as had been hoped.

Bosses at the YMCA have submitted proposals to completely refurbish the former Co-operative Store building in Lichfield Street.

It will feature facilities for the YMCA Black Country Group, youth accommodation and a number of areas yet to be assigned.

But while it is still hoped these will be used by arts groups, it will not include a new home for the Central Youth Theatre.

Steve Clay, chief executive of the YMCA Black Country Group, said: "We had hoped the Central Youth Theatre would be one of the partners involved.

"Unfortunately it has not been possible to bring that about. However, because of the location of the building we would like there to be a youth arty feel to it so that is something we are still pursuing."

BPN Architects have drawn up the plans for the former Co-operative Store building having been appointed by YMCA Black Country Group in October.

The ground and basement floors will comprise an entrance area for the YMCA, a cafe and training facilities. There are also spaces on these floors for which the use has not been decided.

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The upper floors have been set aside for 27 bedsits and nine 'cluster' flats which could each accommodate four or more people.

Mr Clay said they could be used by youngsters in need or for those seeking their first home.

The flats and bedsits would bring these floors into use for the first time since the Co-operative Store closed 29 years ago.

The building's Lichfield Street frontage would be refurbished.

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The area of the building occupied by the Moon Under Water Wetherspoon pub will be unaffected. Mr Clay added work could begin at the site next summer.

Central Youth Theatre was set to benefit from £384,000 from the Arts Council to develop a permanent home in Lichfield Street.

However delays in drawing up plans for the site left it having to hand back its grant after a deadline to use it exceeded.

CYT Director Jane Ward, said: "We are not involved. We had to return the funding as it didn't work within out timescale.

"We weren't able to reach an agreement on a plan which satisfied our needs."

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