As a national pioneer in brownfield regeneration, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) commissioned an independent study in 2021 to look at development opportunities in the emerging Black Country Plan.
The Black Country Assessment of the Potential for Additional Brownfield Land Development Capacity Study, by town planning specialists Chilmark Consulting Ltd, was carried out to support the Local Plan as it moves towards a final submission.
Once finalised, the Black Country Plan will decide where new housing and employment development will be located in the Black Country up to 2039.
The study, which was published today on the Black Country Plan website and can be viewed at https://blackcountryplan.dudley.gov.uk/t2/p4/t2p4m/ supports the approach of the Plan and while it does not identify any new brownfield sites in addition to those already proposed in the Plan, it does put forward some positive suggestions that could provide additional brownfield opportunities in the area.
The study findings include the possibility of putting more housing on brownfield sites already identified in the Black Country Plan and maximising under-utilised capacity in strategic and other town centres.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: “We welcome the encouraging findings set out in this study including its support for the Black Country Plan and of course the brownfield opportunities it sets out for further consideration.
“A key part of our mission from the very outset as a Combined Authority has been to prioritise brownfield first development. It was with this mission in mind that the WMCA and Black Country Local Authorities agreed to commission a comprehensive and independent assessment of the potential to identify additional brownfield land and urban plots suitable for development.
“This study does just that and puts forward some credible suggestions on how we can build even more homes within urban areas that will enable us to protect the precious greenbelt our region is blessed with – leaving it for local residents to enjoy.”
Cllr Mike Bird, leader of Walsall Council and WMCA portfolio holder for housing and land, added: “I’d like to thank Chilmark Consulting for producing this independent assessment and we welcome the findings it sets out.
“The study is positive in its tone and shows support for the Black Country Plan. Consideration will be given to the suggestions it sets out in terms of the potential for additional brownfield development.
“Over recent years the WMCA has forged a solid reputation as a national leader in brownfield regeneration with a strong track record in unlocking difficult sites for new homes and workplaces, helping to reduce pressure on the green belt in the process.
“So, I’m pleased that the WMCA has been able to draw on that experience and help commission this report.”
Both the WMCA and Black Country councils provided evidence and data to the consultants. The study’s findings will now be considered by the Black Country councils and included in the wider evidence pack for the Black Country Plan.