Wolverhampton Eye Infirmary plans emerge as scale of works needed revealed
Developers who snapped up Wolverhampton’s crumbling eye infirmary have vowed to transform the ‘dangerous’ site after it was left sitting empty for more than a decade.
Zed Ahmed and Balbir Singh, of BZ Property Holdings, have finally taken over the ‘structurally unsafe’ plot after purchasing it for an undisclosed sum.
But the ramshackle Compton Road site has been branded ‘an accident waiting to happen’ by the new owners, who hope to overhaul the buildings in just two years.
It comes as new images reveal how the site, formerly owned by The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, has been left ‘completely open to the elements’.
Mr Ahmed said: “It’s an accident waiting to happen. It’s dangerous, hazardous. I think it’s beyond repair. It’s a shame, I feel sorry that it’s got into that condition.”
Footage captured by a drone reveals gaping holes have emerged in the floors, ceilings have entirely collapsed and burnt-out beams have been left supporting fragile walls.
Windows have been shattered, roof tiles have fallen off, while the iconic clock tower appears to have split and is beginning to lean.
The new owners have since boarded up ground floor windows and doors, recruited a 24-hour security guard and dog, and carried out structural surveys on the state of the buildings.
Mr Ahmed said a clean-up and demolition at the site would take up to six months but permission is needed from the council for initial work as it is in a conservation area.
Building work could begin as soon as planning permission is granted. The site may be used for residential or commercial use.
The hospital trust handed over the site, which was abandoned in 2007 when services moved to New Cross Hospital, to Mr Ahmed and Mr Singh on March 1.
It is currently locked in a courtroom battle with the council after hospital bosses disputed an enforcement notice demanding the trust undertake required work.
Mr Ahmed said: “As residents, we are directly affected by the current derelict state of the site and strongly agree with the majority of people about it being an eyesore.
“We recognise that redevelopment of the site is not straightforward due to rapidly deteriorating locally listed buildings, it being in a conservation area and the complexities surrounding the removal of the contaminants on site.
“In spite of these difficulties, we feel that together we can overcome any issues and obstacles, as we seek the same goal, which is the successful redevelopment of this truly iconic and key gateway into Wolverhampton. We want the site to look impressive, assist in job creation for local residents and enhance the area as a whole.”
Despite round-the-clock security and warning signs around the perimeter, squatters and trespassers are still sneaking into the eye infirmary after mounting the walls and fencing.
Many are using the dilapidated site to swig alcohol or take drugs, with others even defecating among the ruins. In January, more than 20 firefighters were forced to tackle a blaze at the plot.
But a string of health and safety risks associated with the site means security guards are unable to enter the deteriorating buildings and remove intruders.
Letters have also been sent to nearby residents introducing the new owners, with many contacting the developers to inform them when trespassers have gained access.
Mr Ahmed, who is now calling on trespassers to keep clear of the site, said: “We can’t physically take them out of the building because of the health and safety risks.
“It’s not worth risking their lives to go in a building that’s structurally unsafe.”
Redevelopment plans are currently being kept under wraps but Wolverhampton Council officers have been presented with potential design ideas for the former eye infirmary, which opened in 1888.
Mr Ahmed added: “It’s on my doorstep, I’m a local resident and it’s been like that for years. When I used to drive past the site, I used to think ‘it has so much potential’.
“Our objective is to restore the whole site as fast as possible. Hopefully we can get something done soon but we have to wait for the court judgement.” The trust handed over the site, abandoned in 2007 when services moved to New Cross, on March 1.