Neglected nightclub building in Walsall to be revamped

Eerie photographs show how a historic building which was once crucial to Walsall’s night-life scene has fallen into a poor state.

The dilapidated former nightclub on Lichfield Street. Photo: Google Maps.
The dilapidated former nightclub on Lichfield Street. Photo: Google Maps.

Mouldy walls, crumbling brickwork, damaged doorways and staircases, smashed windows and a sorry-looking disused dance floor are unwanted prominent features of the Lichfield Street building.

The town centre Grade II Listed venue was last home to the Equator nightclub but that closed in 2018 and the building has remained empty ever since.

Previously it was home to restaurants and, for a number of years, was a branch of the Chicago Rock Café chain.

The poor state of the inside of the former Equator nightclub in Lichfield Street, Walsall. Photo: Node

Heritage experts say the building is in a extremely poor condition with many features damaged and they have warned it is deteriorating at a rapid pace.

The decay has been caused by vandalism, water leaking into the building and rot setting in.

But there is fresh hope for the building after plans by K5unner Properties to convert it into 28 apartments were approved by Walsall Council at a meeting on Monday.

Members were told the company would retain many of the prominent features while the listed building as well as the historic warehouse area would be sympathetically developed.

The poor state of the inside of the former Equator nightclub in Lichfield Street, Walsall. Photo: Node

A heritage condition report by Node submitted with the application said: “132 Lichfield Street is in a parlous condition. The building is derelict and is not watertight.

“Traditional structural elements and fittings are deteriorating rapidly, principally through extensive water ingress, brown rot, and vandalism.

“Without urgent investment, the designated heritage asset will be at risk of further, substantial loss of fabric, leading to considerable adverse impacts to both its individual, significance, and its contributions to the conservation area.

“There are three distinct structural elements within the site. Of these, only the early-to-mid eighteenth century building that fronts Lichfield Street contains features of heritage interest.

“These include: main entrance details (timber panelled door and fanlight), external decoration (giant pilasters and cornice) and several six pane over six sash windows.

The poor state of the inside of the former Equator nightclub in Lichfield Street, Walsall. Photo: Node

“The majority of these features have been damaged, and some to a significant degree. However, most are likely able to be retained and repaired in accordance with conservation principles and priorities, without extensive further loss to their traditional fabric.

“This should be achieved through an informed programme of works, using an evidence-led approach to intervention and repair.”

Agent Jaspreet Bal, of JBVJ Architects, told the committee: “We’ve worked for the past two years with the planning and heritage teams and feel like we’ve arrived to an appropriate and considered proposal that is more befitting this historic site.

“The site has been neglected for a number of years. There is a real focus on retention and refurbishment.

“We’ve had a number of surveys done on the property in terms of the heritage aspects and feel that now the opportunity has arisen and this could be a landmark development.

The poor state of the inside of the former Equator nightclub in Lichfield Street, Walsall. Photo: Node

“It will create a sense of place which at the moment is missing in the area.

“Ultimately, we feel the proposals provide a positive contribution to the diverse and evolving townscape of Walsall town centre.

St Matthews ward councillor Aftab Nawaz said: “I welcome this development. It’s a building that has been neglected for some years and I’m pleased a decent development has come forward.”

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News