Innovative housing scheme in heart of Walsall town centre receives major WMCA investment



Plans to transform a neglected car park in Walsall town centre into a new, family-friendly, waterside neighbourhood have been backed by a £787,000 investment from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). 

The exciting new scheme, by the modern housebuilder House by Urban Splash, will see 15 high design quality town houses and a small park built on canalside land off Marsh Lane, near the town’s New Art Gallery. 

The scheme, which will support wider plans for the ongoing regeneration of the town centre, will feature energy efficient, modular homes manufactured off-site in factory conditions using Advanced Methods of Construction (AMC). The homes are then delivered to the site and craned into place.

Innovative housing scheme in heart of Walsall town centre receives major WMCA investment

CGI image of how the new Walsall Waterfront scheme will look

Walsall Waterfront is the latest in a pipeline of investments that the WMCA has made throughout the pandemic to regenerate former industrial (brownfield) land for new homes and jobs and protect the Green Belt, helping to drive a green economic recovery from Covid-19.

Without this critical investment by the WMCA, using housing and land funds it has successfully secured from Government, the Walsall Waterfront scheme could not have proceeded. 

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “We are yet to emerge from this awful pandemic, but throughout the last year we have done all we can to stop Covid-19 knocking us off course. 

“We have continued to use the money we have secured from Government to unlock and transform brownfield sites, helping to build new high quality homes that people need whilst protecting precious greenbelt land. 

“Our investments have also helped to create and secure local jobs for local people by guaranteeing work for the construction sector. 

“Walsall Waterfront is particularly significant because not only is it new homes and new jobs, it will also be a prime example of Advanced Manufacturing in Construction (AMC) in action in the West Midlands. 

“As well as delivering more homes at a faster pace, this new way of building means we can build homes that support our fight against climate change and drive the growth of innovative, green industries which will provide the well-paid local jobs of the future.” 

Walsall Waterfront is the latest collaboration between the WMCA and developer Urban Splash under a bold partnership deal signed last year to work together on delivering more than 10,000 high quality homes to help the West Midlands achieve its target of building 215,000 new homes by 2031. 

The new neighbourhood is also an example of  the WMCA’s ambition to be a UK leader in the use of AMC by actively supporting its research and development (R&D) and use across the region. Its deployment is closely aligned with the pioneering West Midlands Design Charter which was launched by the WMCA last year to promote, inspire and encourage good design. 

Nathan Cornish of House by Urban Splash said: “We are delighted to once again work with the WMCA to realise our plans – which will breathe new life into this undeveloped piece of land next to the canal. 

“We’re excited about bringing our AMC Town Houses to Walsall. These residents will have bars, restaurants, shopping, a cinema, a hotel and even an art gallery all on the doorstep, in what will be a thriving mixed use community in the heart of the town. 

A greater use of AMC is a key priority of the £3.2bn Covid-19 recovery blue print – Kickstarting the West Midlands Economy: Our Investment Case to Government because it will enable the region to build more homes faster, create new jobs and investment and help achieve its target of constructing 215,000 new homes by 2031. 

But the blueprint also calls for homes that are energy efficient and can support the fight against climate and help the region in its ambition to reach net zero carbon by 2041. 

Cllr Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio holder for land and housing and leader of Walsall Council said: “Even before the pandemic, many town centres were struggling to keep up with changing shopping habits and the fast rise of online retailers.

“We recognised in the Walsall Town Centre Masterplan that towns need to move away from being so retail-focused and look to diversify their offering. That means more homes, public services, offices, and start-up spaces, combined with better transport links and safety measures. 

“So this WMCA investment to enable the Walsall Waterfront scheme to go ahead is good news for this part of the town, bringing new life and vibrancy.” 

As with other House by Urban Splash developments, the homes will form part of a thriving community, with valuable infrastructure and amenities for residents to enjoy in their local area. 

The new homes will sit alongside Waterside Square on the east – a vibrant new urban park which will feature outdoor seating, whilst at the western end of the site, Canalside Gardens will provide a softer, greener and more informal canal-side public space. 

The homes will be built using AMC at the House by Urban Splash factory in Alfreton in the Midlands, before being delivered to the site. 

With support from the Canal and River Trust, the community will further contribute to the reputation of this growing area, which already features the Premier Inn hotel and New Art Gallery. 

Access to funding for the scheme was provided by Frontier Development Capital Ltd (FDC), a fund manager working closely with property developers to arrange investments from the WMCA’s Collective Investment Fund (CIF), Revolving Investment fund (RIF) and Brownfield Land and Property Development Fund (BLPDF).

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