Work has officially started on transforming the site of a derelict Black Country steelworks into a new 252-home community.
The clean-up of the former Caparo Engineering works in Walsall follows a multi-million-pound grant from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) under its ‘brownfield first’ policy which unlocks and prioritises former industrial sites for new development ahead of green belt land, working in partnership with Walsall Council.
The scheme on Green Lane, named Lockside, is the first development for joint venture (JV) developer Anthem Lovell LLP, a partnership between leading developer, Lovell, and a subsidiary of local housing association whg, Anthem Homes.
(l-r) Rebecca Bennett Casserly, whg; Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands; Cllr Adrian Andrew, Deputy Leader of Walsall Councill; John McAuliffe, McAuliffe Group; Stuart Penn, Lovell
The £44 million development will see the derelict 16 acre site brought back into economic use, injecting new life and a sense of place into this important canal-side site.
Remediation work is being undertaken by Wolverhampton-headquartered brownfield experts, McAuliffe Group and will take another four months to complete. The programme includes demolition and extensive earthworks, which will prepare the site for housebuilding, due to commence in December 2020.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic the WMCA has continued to press ahead with its multi-million-pound investment programme to unlock and transform brownfield sites, provide market confidence and help drive the region’s economic recovery, delivering new jobs and homes in the process.
The new Lockside development will also include 78 affordable homes for local people, showcasing the WMCA’s pledge to include a minimum of 20% affordable housing on every site it invests in.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “Before Coronavirus struck, the West Midlands economy was growing fast, living standards were improving and there was a rapid expansion in house building.
“The pandemic has hit hard but we must not be knocked off course. Throughout the crisis we have continued to use Government funding to not only unlock derelict sites like this one for new homes and jobs but to also give local people the skills they need to work in the industries of the future.
“The start of work here today is just part of our wider plans to get our economy back on track and regain our previous momentum. By investing in the future, we can safeguard existing jobs, create new ones and give people the opportunity of a good quality, affordable home.”
Stuart Penn, regional managing director at Lovell, said: “We’re delighted to be delivering this joint venture scheme which will expedite the delivery of much-needed new homes to Walsall and considerably boost the local economy as we continue to deal with the backdrop of the pandemic.
“The partnership enables us to pool our respective strengths to create a sustainable, well-designed and high-quality new community for the people of Walsall, whilst also creating jobs, training opportunities and apprenticeships.”
Corporate director of development at whg, Rebecca Bennett Casserly said: “As a community-based landlord and developer, whg is committed to placemaking and creating neighbourhoods that thrive.
“This exciting development will provide homes for a range of tenures, accessible to a diverse range of people at all stages in life.”
Councillor Adrian Andrew, Deputy Leader and portfolio holder for Regeneration, Walsall Council said: “This is major step forward and another piece of the jigsaw of regenerating our borough.
“This site in Birchills has been derelict for nearly a decade and the intervention of WMCA has led to the clean-up of the site and a partnership with Lovell and whg to build over 250 homes, demonstrating our commitment to developing brownfield land first. This multi-million-pound investment is a huge boost to Birchills and the wider borough creating homes and jobs”.
Lockside will bring a collection of one, two, three and four-bedroom homes with 132 available for open market sale through Lovell Homes, with whg taking on 120 properties including, 32 for private rent, 38 for affordable rent and shared ownership and a 50-unit wellbeing housing scheme for over-55s.
The project is expected to take five years to complete, with the first homes predicted to be ready in July 2021. Lovell will provide 15 apprenticeships during the construction phases in bricklaying and carpentry.
It is anticipated that projects like this, by Anthem Lovell, will to make a significant contribution to the region’s target of delivering 215,000 new homes by 2031.