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West Midlands Levelling Up Growth Prospectus

Local Focus: Wolverhampton

The Challenge 

The City of Wolverhampton is going through a period of significant transformation with new investment, new opportunities and new challenges. 

The industrial heritage of the city is an asset to the local economy, but it has left a legacy of brownfield sites that present redevelopment challenges. Delivering new housing and employment land remains a priority. 

Wolverhampton has one of the highest unemployment rates in England, with Universal Credit claimant levels at 7.7%, above the 5% West Midlands average, and youth unemployment is particularly significant. 

The local business base is majority SME businesses and micro-enterprises, which are struggling with longstanding productivity issues, limiting the potential for growth and job creation. 

Finally, due to a multitude of factors, life expectancy for men and women in Wolverhampton is below the England average. 

The Prize 

The scale of development, location and investor interest in the city provides real opportunities to create and retain additional wealth and growth. At the same time it will support our net zero transition and maintain competitiveness in the well-established manufacturing and construction supply chain. 

New jobs and growing sectors in professional services, creative and digital and low carbon and environmental tech will provide significantly higher levels of overall growth and higher wages. 

We will continue to raise skill levels, increase the employment rate with more local people in jobs, and promote the growth and innovation of the business base to drive productivity and deliver improved outcomes for residents. 

Wolverhampton has the right local conditions to activate catalytic investment that enhances regional economic activity in the short term and delivers transformational regeneration in the long term. 

Progress So Far… 

Wolverhampton is now working in partnership with DLUHC to deliver its framework for levelling up — Our City: Our Plan. Wolverhampton was one of two places first identified with strong local leadership and ambition, where investment can be maximised to catalyse economic transformation. Key progress as part of and beyond this includes: 

  • Improving education, skills and employment including delivering our state-of-the-art City Learning Quarter in the heart of the city centre; 
  • Addressing health inequalities including a Levelling Up Fund Round 2 bid for the Bilston health and regeneration programme which integrates health, care and wellbeing in the redevelopment of one of our most deprived communities; 
  • Ensuring a thriving economy, through the development of a green innovation corridor to build on the city’s position as the UK’s national centre for sustainable construction (Levelling Up Fund Round 2 bid submitted for phase 1); 
  • A City Centre Regeneration Programme with ‘ambitious Kings Cross-style regeneration projects’ including aspirational, mixed-use city centre community living, alongside employment and leisure space; 
  • Capitalising upon being the proud home of the Department of Levelling Up, Communities and Housing. 
  • Supporting the University of Wolverhampton’s £120 million development at Springfield by securing £14.9 million of funding for the world-class National Brownfield Institute; 
  • Continued investment, including a completed phase 2 of the new train station and metro extension; 
  • This will support the development of the Wolverhampton to Walsall line, bringing total investment in the interchange area to £150 million; 
  • £25 million secured from Government’s Towns Fund to transform the city centre, Bilston and Wednesfield. 

Our Proposal 

The proposals for deeper and increased devolution of powers and funding to the West Midlands will build on the work already being done to level up in Wolverhampton. 

  • Flexible powers and funding to invest in new and existing housing, commercial property, employment, and green space. 
  • This will enable wider regeneration and infrastructure improvements. 
  • Furthermore, coordinated retrofit investment and supply chain development will support the Three Cities retrofit programme which Wolverhampton is a part of. 
  • Regionally coordinated, locally delivered local area energy planning will support Wolverhampton in their data requirements for securing a heat network. 
  • Co-commissioned, locally tailored business support will focus on the significant productivity challenge facing businesses, further helping them to grow and thrive. 
  • Increased R&D investment via the Innovation Accelerator will also support Wolverhampton’s green-tech innovation ambitions. 
  • Wolverhampton to Walsall Levelling Up Investment Zone, including the Green Innovation Corridor and linked double devolution of the Wolverhampton industrial decarbonisation hub (in master-planning). 

Wolverhampton has been made a ‘Levelling Up Place’, one of 20 designated by the Government to be part of a ‘radical regeneration programme'.