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UK

07/09/2021

Stalled plans to convert Wolverhampton’s historic former Sunbeam motorcycle factory complex into housing are set to resume after commercial real estate agent Colliers International — acting on behalf of insolvency practitioner Quantuma — finally found a buyer.

This 150,000 sq ft group of mainly Victorian industrial buildings ranged around the perimeter of a large triangular courtyard on its landmark 2.1 acre site, where Sunbeam motorcycles were manufactured from 1912 to 1937, is the stuff of legend. 

Four Isle of Man Senior TT-winning machines were built at the factory. Tommy de la Hay took the first of Sunbeam’s TT victories in 1920, followed by the great Irish-Canadian star Alec Bennett in 1922. Then Charlie Dodson scored a double, winning both the 1928 and 1929 Senior TT races.

Murray Walker’s father Graham was also a regular competitor for the marque in the 1920s and early 1930s. Famous Yorkshireman Tom Bullus, whose name went on to be synonymous with German-made but British-designed NSU racers in the same period — the Bullus singles — also cut his TT teeth astride a Sunbeam.

However, the factory’s more recent history is a less-stirring saga. It stood disused and semi-derelict from the early 1990s onwards, in danger of demolition, until bought by QED Developments a decade ago. This new proprietor obtained planning consent for conversion to 117 upmarket residential apartments in 2013. But only 35 of these were completed before QED went bust in 2017.

The remaining empty and unconverted property then fell into the hands of QED’s joint administrators Simon Campbell and Carl Jackson at Quantuma, who appointed Colliers for a disposal in 2018. Fortunately, having languished without any saviour in sight for three years, these premises have now been sold for £7.5m to Paragon Living Space, a local developer specialising in the delivery of social and public-sector housing.

Commenting on the acquisition, Paragon’s Robbie Hubball said: “We’re excited that we’ve been able purchase this iconic site. There are already some great homes completed on it and we’re looking forward to updating the planning applications to ensure viability and creating a real community for the area.”