'New era' for Dudley as Cavendish House prepares to go and Metro extension begins
Mayor Andy Street has hailed the start of a "new era" for Dudley as preparations to demolish an eyesore office block were stepped up and work to extend the Midland Metro began.
Preparations are being made to finally bulldoze the derelict Cavendish House office block, which has been empty for more than 20 years.
Meanwhile officials have marked the start of the project to bring the Metro tram line to Dudley, which leaders say has been waiting too long to see significant regeneration.
The former Inland Revenue offices at Cavendish House will finally be razed to the ground after the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), headed by Mayor Mr Street, stepped in to provide more than £700,000 to break the deadlock.
A compound is now being set up near the office block and diggers will soon arrive at the site.
A number of other surrounding buildings will also be knocked down, including the former B&Q building, the Rickshaw restaurant, a taxi office, a disused scout hut and the former Metro Bar pub.
The demolition will pave the way for the £82 million Portersfield retail and leisure development which could include shops, restaurants, bars, offices and homes.
Officials say improved transport links are key to the town's prosperity over the next decade.
The Metro line will be extended to Dudley from Wednesbury and on to Brierley Hill for the Merry Hill shopping centre in a £450m overhaul. The first services are due to launch in 2023.
Mr Street, the former boss of John Lewis, said: “This is a massive day for Dudley, which like other towns in the West Midlands has been hit hard by changes in modern shopping habits and other factors, resulting in empty shops and offices and a lack of engaging spaces for the local community.
“But the WMCA is committed to reversing this decline, and I can’t think of a more visible symbol of ushering in a new era for Dudley town centre than the demolition of Cavendish House.
WATCH: Andy Street explains Dudley work
"This eyesore has blighted and held back the regeneration of the town for more than a decade, and I am delighted the WMCA could play its part in making sure this monument to stagnation is gone for good.
“The future success of town centres will also hinge on transport links, and so it is great to see work progressing on the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro line, helping to better connect the borough of Dudley with the wider West Midlands.”
Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley said: “I am absolutely delighted that the end is now in sight for Cavendish House.
“It has been a blot on the skyline of the town centre for far too long but today’s news is a symbol of the recovery and resurgence of Dudley.
“Within weeks the building will finally come down and work will start on another exciting development for the borough.
“We plan to invest more than £700 million in the town centre over the next five years. Along with the new bus and tram interchange, and the proposed Metro extension from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill which will run through Dudley, it promises an exciting future.”