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Brewers Yard: Wolves success 'can bring Chinese investment'

By Pete Madeley | Wolverhampton | Business | Published:

Wolves success under owners Fosun can help bring millions of pounds in Chinese investment to the city, it has been claimed.

Bosses say the Brewers Yard scheme will transform Wolverhampton

The city wants to bring in investment to build the Brewers Yard scheme, which will see 1,100 homes on land bordering the University of Wolverhampton’s Springfield Campus.

And bosses at the developers behind the project believe the city has become a serious proposition for investors from the Far East thanks to the success of Wolves under Fosun International.

Court Collaboration CEO Anthony McCourt told the E&S: “We can bring in some really good investment into the Black Country through this project.

Take a video tour of the plans:

“When you think of the value Wolverhampton has as a proposition for the Chinese market – you look at Fosun and you look at how well Wolves are doing in the Premier League, that rings bells over there.

“Football sells in China. There has been big investment from there in Manchester in terms of residential development because of the success of the two football clubs.

"I think there is something in the fact that Fosun has invested so heavily and so well inside Wolverhampton too.

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“There’s a direct correlation there that we hope to build on.”

Wolves chairman Jeff Shi, of Fosun International. Photo: AMA

Fosun, which is valued at £60 billion, has invested heavily in Wolves since buying the club in 2016, overseeing its rise to the Premier League under manager Nuno Espírito Santo.

The firm paid £30 million for Wolves and has spent around £150m on transfers.

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Net investment is thought to be around £100m.

Homes, shops and restaurants for 10-acre site

It started out as a chat at a property developers show in the plush environs of the French Riviera.

Now Wolverhampton’s latest multi-million pound scheme is ready to move off the drawing board, with bosses looking for millions of pounds of investment to make it a reality.

Dubbed the Brewers Yard development, it will include a mixture of homes to rent and buy, some of the city’s tallest towers, expansive walkways, as well as shops and restaurants.

Situated on 10 acres of land off Wednesfield Road, it will further regenerate part of the city which is already seeing substantial investment through the University of Wolverhampton’s Springfield Campus and upcoming National Brownfield Institute.

Cannes conversation

Brewers Yard was born during a conversation at last year’s MIPIM event in Cannes, where West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Wolverhampton council’s managing director Tim Johnson met with Birmingham-based developer Court Collaboration to explore the possibility of bringing ‘city living’ to the Black Country.

“We identified the site and thought we could put a load of low level family housing on it,” recalls Court Collaboration boss Anthony McCourt.

“There’s nothing wrong with that, but instead what we want to do is to actually create a high quality city centre living project in the centre of Wolverhampton.

An artist's impression of the plans

“It is something that hasn’t been done here before, but we believe the time is now right.

“As anyone can see from the plans this isn’t a bread and butter scheme.

“The designs are ambitious. It’s expensive to build and aspirational.

“We think that Wolverhampton deserves this and it is about time that something of this quality was delivered here.”

Private investment needed

The project is a joint effort also involving the city council, the West Midlands Combined Authority and the University of Wolverhampton.

Mr McCourt says the university’s sprawling Springfield Campus is “absolutely critical to the viability of this scheme”.

He added: “The university – commendably – is spending so much capital on the campus, I think it will help place-make and game-change this area generally.

“We want to make sure that this scheme ties in with the university.”

Designed by award-winning Glancy Nicholls Architects, bosses say the scheme will cost £185m and could bring in £250m in terms of its economic benefit.

To get it off the ground it will be crucial that private investors are brought in, which has been the aim of a Wolverhampton delegation at the MIPIM event this week.

It is not Mr McCourt’s first rodeo. In a previous role as a director at Lloyds Bank he was responsible for delivering Birmingham’s £100m development, The Cube.

And his firm is currently on site building 1,000 homes across Birmingham – mainly using Chinese inward investment capital.

2027 completion date

He said he was confident that the groundwork was in place for Brewers Yard, which is planned to be built in phases and completed by 2027.

As a former industrial site, it will require remediation before any work can start. “For this to work we need the combined authority and Wolverhampton Council to come along with us on this journey, and I’m confident they will.

“In our business we are particularly good at sourcing capital from around the world, particularly from Asia.

“So we are looking to bring in capital as quickly as we can, and lock it in to different elements of the scheme and get it delivered.”

Council bosses have described the scheme as “a real game-changer” for Wolverhampton, and Mr McCourt says that he wants to create a new inner city neighbourhood that has something for everyone.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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