Ion & the City of Wolverhampton Council today (Friday) celebrated a major milestone in its transformation plans for the city centre.
It has formally welcomed the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to its new joint headquarters within the eye-catching i9 building at the heart of the city’s commercial district and award-winning transport Interchange.
The new premium Grade A office development, which has received design plaudits and WiredScore Gold accreditation, can now boast it is the home to the first ministerial department outside of London.
The MHCLG is fitting out its space on the ground and fourth floors, to house hundreds of staff, including ministers and senior civil servants.
The Council is also currently supporting MHCLG with recruitment for new vacancies, including apprenticeships, with over 100 staff recruited so far, 95 into new positions.
Council Leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said: “The Council has worked hard to make this happen and we are delighted to formally welcome the MHCLG to i9 and our wonderful city. It is a huge vote of confidence in Wolverhampton.
“It’s also a big endorsement of the Council’s ambitious plans to invest in – and develop – a new multi-million-pound commercial district in the heart of the city centre, right next to our new, award winning railway station with its excellent connections to London, Birmingham and Manchester.
“Most importantly, this investment is delivering, exciting, well-paid jobs and opportunities for Wolverhampton residents.
“The kudos of being the first place outside of Whitehall to host a Government department is creating a real buzz and interest in our city, attracting further investment which is exactly what we want to be able to ‘relight’ Wolverhampton, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.
“Wolverhampton is the ideal location in the heart of the country, with enviable connectivity to the rest of the West Midlands and beyond.
“When the idea of MHCLG moving out of London was first discussed last year, the Council, local MPs and other stakeholders lobbied hard to make it a reality and that has paid off.”
i9 is located at the heart of Wolverhampton’s new £150million Interchange and is ideally placed to benefit from HS2 which will cut journey times to London and elsewhere dramatically. The city is also becoming one of the most digitally connected cities in the UK, with 5G and gigabit speed, full fibre broadband being rolled out at pace.
i9 emerged following the success of the award-winning i10 complex on the opposite side of Railway Drive.
The Council and leading property developer, Ion, selected Glenn Howells Architects’ design for i9 as the winner from a strong field of ten UK leading architects and urban design practices in a national design competition.
Contractors GRAHAM completed the i9 build in early August, constructing six floors of stunning Grade A office space, including the potential for 5,600 sq ft of retail or leisure space.
Agreements are close to being finalised with other big-name occupiers to take the remainder of the office space.
It is the next step in developing a thriving commercial quarter at the heart of Wolverhampton Interchange – bringing further investment and jobs to the city.
Ion Development Director, Rob Mason, said: “We are delighted to welcome the first ministerial department outside London to i9. It is testament to the success of the building – one we were determined would demonstrate sustainability, future proofing and a desire to regenerate communities within the city centre – that we have the endorsement of the MHCLG who will make it their new home.
“As with i10, we continue to see a considerable demand for i9’s Grade A office space, no doubt attributable in part to the increased connectivity Wolverhampton’s award-winning Interchange scheme has brought to the city.”
The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) also supported the development of i9.
Information on the job opportunities available with MHCLG at i9 and how to apply can be found at https://whitehalltowestmids.org.uk/