City of Wolverhampton under the spotlight

Senior regional property experts discuss commercial opportunities and development plans in Wolverhampton.

The City of Wolverhampton’s development plans, its commercial opportunities and its challenges, have been discussed by a select panel of experts from across the West Midlands’ private and public sectors.

Held at KPMG, the roundtable discussion organised by the West Midlands Growth Company heard from business leaders spanning organisations including JLL, Knight Frank, GVA, Savills, Boss and the City of Wolverhampton Council.

The industry figures who took part identified the University of Wolverhampton as an important asset with a key role, capable of stimulating a nationally significant cluster of expertise:

“The University of Wolverhampton has a very progressive approach to developing the city’s key sectors and this will create opportunity moving forward. Once complete, the Springfield Campus will create a hub for the built environment and construction that is actually of national significance.”

“Wolverhampton’s capabilities in engineering and manufacturing and the associated workforce is where the city’s greatest potential lies. Wolverhampton should learn from the success of i54, which has attracted major occupiers such as Jaguar Land Rover, Moog, Eurofins and Tentec. This strong occupier profile has only been possible because the city can offer modern industrial units and therefore it’s viewed as a sustainable base.”

Attendees highlighted connectivity as Wolverhampton’s most frequently cited selling point from the perspective of potential investors and occupiers.

“Wolverhampton is the only city within the Black Country metropolitan area, making it an important gateway to the West Midlands.”

“Plans for the city’s railway station demonstrate a forward thinking approach to creating a sustainable transport hub. This Interchange area will link bus, rail and metro into the city’s commercial district – creating a densely built, integrated hub, right in the centre of Wolverhampton that essentially becomes an extension of neighbouring locations like Birmingham.”

Another agent explained his views on the importance of collaboration within the West Midlands:

“The view when selling the city’s proposition isn’t to position neighbouring big cities as competition. Wolverhampton only benefits from its proximity to other locations, and the West Midlands Combined Authority has done a great job in reinforcing Wolverhampton as integral to its economic growth plans.”

As part of the roundtable discussion, attendees shared a single view on the challenges the City of Wolverhampton faces. The area’s outdated perception was highlighted as the most significant barrier to growth.

“Focus moving forward has to be reinventing the old narrative that is sometimes associated with Wolverhampton – this impression of the area as a concrete mass.

“The city’s heritage, its uniquely preserved buildings and canal networks are actually attracting Far Eastern investor interest. It’s laying the foundations for major leisure focussed schemes in the city like Westside and the Molineux Campus, which will capitalise on the land surrounding the Wolverhampton Wanderers football stadium.”

The City of Wolverhampton Council’s improved efforts to implement redevelopment through public-private partnership was acknowledged as an important factor for bringing projects forward.

“An example of public-private partnership done right is the city’s Westside project. Westside included some local authority-owned land but the council also proactively purchased further land and buildings to package the area as a single investment opportunity.”

The roundtable concluded with remarks on what attendees believed should be areas of priority for the City of Wolverhampton.

“The strength of the office occupier market and level of latent demand has been shown by the success of the i10 building, which was fully let within only a few months of practical completion, attracting several prominent occupiers including Countryside, Ovivo and Tarmac.

“I think i9 is the next step in building a thriving commercial quarter in Wolverhampton, that will attract equally significant occupiers.”

“The leisure and retail sectors have a lot of potential to grow in the city. This, combined with leisure amenities surrounding the canal will enable an important living proposition for the West Midlands.”

The roundtable formed part of the City of Wolverhampton’s Business Programme – an annual series of events from 23rd September–3rd October, aimed at businesses looking to start or grow. The City of Wolverhampton is now recognised as one of the UK’s most investable propositions, with in excess of £1 billion of public and private sector investment already on-site or earmarked for the city centre. Through the Business Programme, city leaders will be sharing the range of commercial opportunities available for investors.