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Express & Star comment: Landmark buildings have to be cherished

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

It is impossible to overstate the importance of looking after our historic buildings.

Wolverhampton Eye Infirmary has suffered from vandalism in recent months

In recent decades far too many landmark sites across the region have been left to wrack and ruin, with stunning piles transformed into eyesores, often through dereliction and lack of care.

There are countless examples in the Black Country, with Wolverhampton's eye infirmary being right at the top of the list.

The site has been derelict for more than 10 years. It has been set alight on several occasions, and regularly targeted by vandals and squatters.

Numerous efforts to redevelop it have come to nothing, leading to the eye infirmary to gain the dubious reputation as the biggest blot on the city's landscape.

Hope has finally emerged after West Midlands firm BZ Property Holdings landed a deal for the site, but as the images in today's Express & Star show, developers have an enormous task on their hands to breathe new life into the plot.

In many ways it is scandalous that the eye infirmary has been allowed to become such an eyesore.

While it has been the centre of a most unsavoury row over its appearance between Wolverhampton Council and health bosses across the city, residents have been left to put up with an eyesore on their doorstep.

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It shines a light on the wider issue of how we look after places of historical significance.

Work to transform Wolverhampton's iconic Sunbeam factory is back on track – a project that will see 116 apartments at the former motorcycle factory.

And the city's university has done a fantastic job of preserving sections of the former Springfield Brewery as part of its sprawling new campus.

Birmingham's Custard Factory, now an independent shopping centre and creative space, is a shining example of how an old industrial site can become a new landmark in its own right.

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Most people would agree that it is far better to have a functioning site that is of use to the community, in place of a derelict building for weeds to grow in.

As far as bringing old buildings back into use, there is absolutely nothing wrong with progress.

Providing it is done tastefully, that is.

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