RIBA holds invited contest for disused Sainsbury’s in Wolverhampton

The contest is organised on behalf of ‘social impact’ developer Capital&Centric, which is working with the City of Wolverhampton on the regeneration of a former Sainsbury’s store and car park site next to Wolverhampton’s Grade II-listed St George’s Church.

Four practices will be given eight weeks to draw up proposals to transform the city centre plot – which has been disused since 2015 – into an ‘aspirational, diverse and playful neighbourhood’ with the church as its centrepiece helping to unlock regeneration across the wider area.

Key aims of the contest, set to launch next week, include encouraging ‘wellbeing, health and a distinct sense of identify’ and creating a new ‘melting pot’ of homes, community facilities, business space and public areas.

Capital&Centric joint managing director John Moffat said: ‘We’ve been pretty dogmatic in our belief that exemplar design doesn’t have to be the preserve of London, or the South. Delivering development on brownfield sites in towns and cities is critical to the UK’s housing supply, but that’s no excuse for bland and boring new builds that add little to the social fabric of a place.

‘We’re teaming up with RIBA to ensure that the St George’s neighbourhood in Wolverhampton can be held up as a best-in-class example of how to do creative, brownfield regeneration right in a way that delivers social value. We want the practices to come up with something that both inspires and excites, but is a deliverable design that the city can get behind.’

City of Wolverhampton Council leader Stephen Simkins said: ‘The last time we worked with partners on a design competition it resulted in the delivery of the iconic i9 office building – home to the government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

‘We now want the St George’s scheme to become the design and quality benchmark for future developments in the city and I expect to see a high standard of entries for this game-changing opportunity.’

Finalist designs will feature in a public exhibition with local residents invited to share responses. The overall winner will influence an emerging masterplan for St George’s which is expected to be submitted for planning later this year.

Teams interested in participating are encouraged to contact Martin Crews at Capital&Centric ([email protected]) by the end of this week.