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West Midlands Levelling Up Growth Prospectus

Special Feature: Levelling Up Investment Zones

What is it? 

This new approach aims to transform parts of the West Midlands that urgently need more investment in housing, transport, digital, and energy infrastructure, but they also need improved skills, public services, and cultural activities. 

They are defined areas which combine the best of existing national policy on Freeports and Enterprise Zones with local accountability, collaboration, and innovation. 

Crucially, they are designed to unlock private investment alongside public funding to bring regeneration to those parts of the region that need levelling up more than others and improve accessibility through better co-ordination of transport and land use. We are already proving our ability to deliver such co-ordinated interventions through the CRSTS programme. 

Key Features 

  • An agreed business plan and masterplan of development and regeneration to deliver significant additional homes, jobs and floorspace and wider levelling up objectives over 25 - 30 years, along a major transport corridor or similar clearly defined area. 
  • Self-financing and income generation through 100% business rates growth retention, long-term investment in public land as equity, and a Revolving Property Fund model which would capture a share of land value increases and profits. 
  • A focus on attracting substantial new private sector investment taking advantage of appetite for environmental, social, and governance investments. 
  • A supportive and business-minded planning environment that accelerates decision making, unlocks barriers, and provides investor certainty. 
  • Seeking major strategic partners for the whole corridor, rather than site-by-site investments, to provide scale for investors and long-term commitment to delivery of placemaking objectives. 
  • Providing incentives to accelerate delivery and provide certainty for investors, for example Development Consent Orders, rate reliefs, build out agreements, commitments to future public transport and enabling infrastructure. 
  • A strong governance model to give private sector partners and Whitehall clarity, certainty and confidence in the vision and decision-making. 

Our Proposal 

There has already been significant enthusiasm from government for this concept, and we’re working closely with them on how it might be implemented. However, there are several commitments we’re seeking from government to unlock the full extent of the proposals. These include: 

  • Committing to Business rates retention for Zones for 25 - 30 years; 
  • Piloting Stamp Duty Land Tax retention for new homes built in Zones; 
  • Piloting land investment from HMG agencies and Departments in Zones to demonstrate cross-sector commitment to partnership and innovation; 
  • Granting additional powers to the WMCA to unlock barriers to delivery, for example on CPO compensation; 
  • Grant WMCA flexibilities over how to use existing grant funds in zones, maximising investment opportunities and exploring options for new models; 
  • A whole-place approach to public services, with an initial focus on employment and skills to drive economic growth. 

Where would Levelling Up Investment Zones be? 

We are seeking to pilot Levelling Up Investment Zones in defined areas which were identified in our 2022 Investment Prospectus. These would include: 

  • Wednesbury to Brierley Hill: maximising opportunities unlocked by the Metro; 
  • East Birmingham / North Solihull: focused on improving transport links, driving regeneration, and tackling deprivation; 
  • UK Central: making the most of the nationally significant opportunities around HS2, the motorway network and Birmingham Airport; 
  • We are co-developing proposals for a number of other areas: Walsall to Wolverhampton including the Green Innovation Corridor; M54 Corridor (Telford- Shropshire); and the South Coventry / Warwick Innovation Corridor.