Apartments, retail space and a conference facility are all set to be built as part of a £25 million regeneration in the Black Country which could create hundreds of new jobs.
Plans have been revealed to breathe new life into the former Chance Brothers Glassworks, in Smethwick, which closed in 1981 but employed 3,500 people at its peak.
The grade II Glassworks, which is visible from the M5, was built in 1824 and produced glass used in the Houses of Parliament, the clock faces of Elizabeth Tower and Crystal Palace in London as well as supplying specialist lenses to 2,000 lighthouses across the world.
It also produced glass for the great Exhibition in 1851 but in 2017 The Victorian Society added it to its Top 10 Endangered Buildings list.
Chance Heritage Trust is behind the new scheme to regenerate 5.4 acres of derelict land and buildings.
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The urban village could contain 215,270 sq ft of new space including 160 two-bedroom apartments, a small conference facility, café, retail space, heritage educational centre, enterprise space and a 30-metre tall lighthouse as a nod to the location’s industrial heritage.
The first phase of work there will see the transformation of the site’s landmark seven-storey building and a host of new-build development, with the canal arm also set to be introduced.
The aim is to create a focal point to the entrance of the site with residential accommodation, offices, incubator space for start-ups and growing local businesses and retail/leisure units on the ground floor.
The second phase will focus on the rest of the site and include the restoration of canalside buildings, a number of new builds and the lighthouse that could feature an original lens loaned by the Scottish Museum of Lighthouses.
The regeneration in Spon Lane is expected to take five years to complete and create up to 500 new jobs.
In order to progress development of the proposals, the trust is launching a new share scheme which will allow supporters to buy into the project from as little as £20.
It is hoped this will raise £110,000 towards creating final feasibility plans and the appointment of a full-time project manager.
There will also be the opportunity for former workers and those connected to the site to share their stories in an Antiques Roadshow-style event where company memorabilia will be valued free.
Mark Davies, chairman of the Chance Heritage Trust, said: “The gates on Chance Glassworks closed in 1981 and ever since the buildings have remained derelict and are fast decaying.
“We needed to find a solution as it is such a waste of one of the West Midlands’ most historical sites.
“We have had the plans drawn up and we have backing from a number of key stakeholders, including the local authorities.
“Now is the time to push on and bring the vision to reality.
“That’s why we’re kickstarting the share option and hoping to move the project to the next stage by unlocking National Lottery funding and engaging with commercial partners that share our vision.
“It used to be such a vibrant site and played an important part in the Black Country’s industrial heritage.
“The dream is to create a modern-day urban village that can drive jobs, drive investment and become a tourist destination that we can all be proud of.”
The share option is being launched at an information event on Saturday February 29 at Smethwick Library