Sector - Finance & Legislation

PM announces £84m for West Mids

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced an extra £84 million in spending for the West Midlands to help expand the region’s trailblazing brownfield regeneration programme.  This additional funding means that up to 7,500 new homes in the area can now be built on former industrial land.

Unveiling the government’s £5 billion infrastructure package earlier this week to help drive the UK’s post-COVID-19 recovery during a visit to Dudley, Mr Johnson revealed his economic stimulus package included £400 million to support brownfield regeneration across Britain, something which the West Midlands has been campaigning for.

The Prime Minster’s decision to award more than a fifth of the brownfield regeneration funding to the region means hundreds more acres of derelict land can now be regenerated. This builds on the footsteps of various stalled schemes the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has unlocked over the last two years.

Since the £100 million Brownfield Fund was given to the WMCA in 2018, sites such as Friar Park in Sandwell, the largest brownfield housing site in the region, has been made ready for development by the WMCA. Last week the region also submitted a £3.2 billion West Midlands investment plan to the Government, which included a request for further funding to regenerate brownfield.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The West Midlands has been leading the way since 2018 on regenerating brownfield land to create thousands of new homes, and I am pleased the Prime Minister has given us the cash needed to keep the work going at pace. It is also encouraging that just one week after submitting our £3.2 billion investment plan to Government, one of the requests has already started to come to fruition.

“Our Brownfield First policy is critical as it not only regenerates contaminated, derelict old land – which in some cases has blighted communities for decades – but it also allows us to protect our precious greenbelt at the same time.

“This latest funding will allow hundreds more acres of former industrial land to be developed into thousands of new homes, something that will be critical as we look to re-boot our economy following the coronavirus pandemic.”

The Mayor also added that the region was now ready to move quickly in deploying the new funding by using its widely acclaimed Single Commissioning Framework to support the creation of vibrant new communities, affordable housing, innovative construction methods and a quality placemaking, building momentum for a regional recovery.

The brownfield package announced by the Prime Minister for the West Midlands will see:

  • Construction commencing on new homes as quickly as possible
  • Land in the region’s comprehensive brownfield sites pipeline accelerated
  • The WMCA supporting advanced manufacturing in construction (AMC) techniques in projects it helps fund and support in order to speed up construction and deliver energy efficient homes for local people
  • The delivery of a minimum 20 per cent of affordable housing in WMCA funded schemes using the authority’s new, local definition of ‘affordable’
  • Funding delivered through the procedures and principles set out in the WMCA Single Commissioning Framework, and continuously monitored to ensure delivery of those requirements on the ground

Prominent projects announced or under way as part of the WMCA’s ‘Brownfield-First’ strategy using funding previously awarded to the region include:

  • Friar Park, the largest brownfield housing site in the region, now becoming a 750-home community in Sandwell. The scheme follows the purchase of an old sewage works by the WMCA, which had sat derelict for more than 30 years with no developer taking it on
  • Steelhouse Lane in Wolverhampton – 151 new homes at a former industrial site
  • Bull Street in West Bromwich, an abandoned multi-storey car park to be turned into new homes
  • The demolition of the eyesore Cavendish House office block in Dudley which will form the Portersfield development featuring retail, leisure and housing.

Cllr Mike Bird, Leader of Walsall Council and WMCA portfolio holder for housing and land, said: “Our economic recovery from Covid-19 gives us an opportunity to build back better, by providing quality, affordable homes and decent jobs for local people in a way that protects our environment.

“Our Brownfield First policy means we are using our funding to drive new developments on derelict, former industrial land wherever possible.

“This funding means the WMCA can continue to ‘invest to unlock’ and clean up brownfield land for developers while laying down minimum standards of affordability, design and energy efficiency.”

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