Jazz concerts and wedding receptions are planned in the former church in Wolverhampton

A Grade II listed former church in central Wolverhampton is set to be transformed into a large social hub, hosting wedding receptions and jazz concerts if new plans are given the green light. Darlington Street Methodist Church – notable for its large green dome – held its last service in September 2019, closing after almost 120 years of service.

Rajinder Dhinsa of Hallmark Investment Properties in Wolverhampton has now submitted a bid to council to convert the building into a venue capable of hosting a variety of community functions.

Councilor Lynne Moran (Lab), who represents St Peter’s Parish where the former church is located, said: “I remember the Good Shepherd did his best to work efficiently in this church building, which given its In principle, we should keep our interesting old buildings, but that would be demanding in terms of refurbishment and safety.

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“If there’s an investor willing to bring this building back to a good standard and make it commercially viable, that’s probably a good thing. Planned use for banquets is popular elsewhere and we would have to have specific planning reasons to object. The improvement in evening entertainment options is likely to fit into the overall development of the city,” she added.

Wolverhampton Conservative Group Deputy Leader Cllr Simon Bennett (Bushbury North) said: “The Darlington Street Methodist Church is one of the most historic buildings in the city center and contains a magnificent church organ. Their closure was a sad loss. It is important that the building is restored, put back into use and its heritage protected. Any project that moves forward must improve the city and it is vital that residents and local businesses alike participate in the plans.”

The proposals call for the famous large church organ to be fully restored and used as a centerpiece in the interior refurbishment. A statement from architects Stephen Sedwell said: “In our recent inquiries the positive meaning of this building has become clear here as a transitional building.”

However, Cllr Paul Birch (Lab. Blakenhall), who owns and operates Revolver Records on Goldthorn Hill, said he felt the building could be better used for another purpose. “The classic design of the early 20th century former church lends itself to becoming a new 4*/5* hotel – which we desperately need in the city centre,” he said.

“But instead of planning our city for the purpose and vision that we have, we allow developers to take ownership of buildings and then submit their building applications. Once these requests are received, the planners almost always support the developers – citing planning laws and regulations to support the decisions, tying the planning committee’s hands behind their backs.

“As a result, I think we have a cityscape that is invented by developers and not by the city itself,” he added. “As a result, we’ll likely get another Asian banquet center, which I honestly don’t think we need. A clear vision is required to create a bustling city center for businesses and residents – not the tired, outdated and quiet city we currently live in.”

The Grade II Listed building on the corner of Darlington Street and School Street first opened in 1901. The planners will make a decision on the proposals in the near future.

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