A huge plan to create 1,300 apartments and new jobs in Wolverhampton has cleared another significant hurdle.
City of Wolverhampton Council approved budgets for Phase One of the Brewer’s Yard development at a meeting on Wednesday (September 15).
This will involve moving the Meals on Wheels and vehicle fleet management teams from the Culwell Street depot to Hickman Avenue to allow the outdated buildings to be demolished to make way for 780 flats alongside retail and commercial units.
It is hoped the wider Brewers Yard scheme – which will involve two neighbouring sites – will create around 1,300 new homes.
But although they supported the scheme, opposition Conservative councillors questioned whether the authority would deliver on time and within budget, accusing the administration of failing to do so on previous major projects.
The project secured cabinet approval in July and will have to negotiate a few more steps, including securing planning permission before it becomes a reality.
Councillor Steve Evans, cabinet member for city environment and climate change, said: “Culwell Street is a 1960s Fleet depot where we maintain and repair all our fleet and also based there is the Meals on Wheels service.
“We would like to relocate those two services over to Hickman Avenue to the Wholesale Market upon which we will reconfigure and make better use of that land including electric vehicle support and charging points, solar panels, more capacity.
“It frees up the land at Culwell Street which is a brownfield site. We said ‘brownfield first’ and we’re going to be good to our word.
“We want to free it up as one of three areas as part of phase 1 of Brewer’s Yard for city living. This will create hundreds of jobs, 1300 apartments in total as well as supporting the local economy. All round it is excellent.”
But Tory councillor Ellis Turrell said: “I welcome the redevelopment of the Culwell Street site and is exactly the type of brownfield land in Wolverhampton we need to be regenerating for housing.
“What is clear without the extraordinary support of the Government and Andy Street, this project would not be happening.
“Where this project is likely to fall apart is because it involves this Labour council. Let’s be honest, the council’s record of borrowing and spending money isn’t great.”
His colleague Simon Bennett added: “Residents of Wolverhampton want to see this council is capable of delivering some capital projects.
“But as previous projects have shown, they really haven’t got that capable set of skills.
“Let’s just see what the ratepayers at home think when this project is finished and whether it is finished on time, on schedule, in budget or whether all of that was out the window again for this council.”
Councillor Evans retorted they have built in 20 per cent of contingencies within the budget – which was detailed in a private report – to cover any risks.
He added there will be an internal team and external consultants appointed to monitor progress of the budget for the project.
He said: “The truth is we could sit on a brownfield site that’s out of date which would cost us an awful lot of money to upgrade. Or we could look to be really efficient and reconfigure the whole site.
“I think it goes without saying this is an excellent project. We try to do something positive and we get negative opposition.”
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