Norton & Proffitt, the joint development between St Modwen and Goold Estates, which is undertaking the £90 million St Matthew¹s Quarter regeneration scheme in the centre of Walsall, is today (Mon) taking stock and planning the way forward following the devastating fire at the weekend which destroyed the listed four-storey Shannons Mill, the historic landmark feature within the development.
The remains of the former Victorian mill building, which was to have been converted into 45,000 sq ft of offices, 48 apartments and 20,000 sq ft of retail space, are being demolished for safety reasons, but it does not mean the end of the regeneration plans. The mill was totally gutted during the fire which West Midlands Fire Service described as the worst blaze they have experienced in a quarter of a century.
Anthony Glossop, chairman of St Modwen Properties, said today: ³We are devastated at the destruction of Shannons Mill which was a focal point in the St Matthew¹s Quarter redevelopment. We had put a huge amount of effort into designing the future use of this historic building and had let a series of contracts designed to commence its restoration.
³Now we will have to take stock and plan what is the best way forward. Our team reacted extremely fast to the incident and with first rate collaboration with the statutory authorities procedures took place rapidly to ensure demolition of unsafe structures and protection of the public and emergency services.
“Whilst the principal damage was on the historic Shannons Mill site there was some significant damage to the new-built apartments in Phase 1 caused by their proximity to the main fire.
“We have been working closely with our insurers during the demolition process . Whilst it is not a financial problem it is certainly a significant emotional loss.”
In June a new 118,000 sq ft Asda superstore, which anchors the first phase of the town centre regeneration scheme, opened. The phase, which is on the opposite side of the road to Shannons Mill, also includes seven shops, a 1,000-space multi-storey car park and 41 apartments pre-sold to Accord Housing Ltd.
The Asda store was open for basket trade shopping by the day after the fire and the multi-storey car park was re-opened today. The latter may need some short term closures whilst key areas of demolition are undertaken, but the aim is to get normal trading in the area resumed as fast as possible. A joint statement with Walsall Borough Council has been agreed dealing with the timescales of this week¹s operations.
For further information contact Neil Haywood (St Modwen) on 0121 222 9400 or Dominic Goold (Goold Estates) on 01922 613131. Issued by Paul Raymer of Howle Chapman Raymer (0121 236 7771).