More than 250 new homes will be built in Walsall after the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) stepped in to unlock disused land for development.
The WMCA has awarded £3.6m to property developer St Francis Group to "remediate" brownfield land on Goscote Lane.
St Francis Group will now clean up the 17.1 hectare site so 263 new houses can be built.
(From left to right) Rob Braid, CEO of St Francis Group; Steve Holland, senior specialist, Homes England; Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street; Ninder Johal from the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership; and Cllr Adrian Andrew, cabinet member for regeneration, Walsall Council, view the site at Goscote Lane.
The development forms part of the Goscote Lane Corridor scheme – which will see 700 homes built in the area as part of Walsall’s biggest residential regeneration project.
The funding awarded to St Francis Group comes from the Black Country’s £53m land remediation fund, part of £200m secured by the WMCA for housing and land in the first devolution deal which transferred powers from central Government to the Combined Authority.
Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said: "The West Midlands is cementing its reputation as a great place to live and work, with record economic growth and job creation and an increasing international profile.
"Our Strategic Economic Plan set out how that growth would affect our population in real terms: we expect 400,000 more people will be living in the region over the next decade, and we need to build 215,000 homes by 2031 to provide comfortable, quality houses for our communities.
"We’ve committed to ensuring 80% of those homes are built on brownfield land - but many brownfield sites need to be cleaned up before houses can be built on them. I’m delighted we’ve been able to contribute to the important Goscote Lane regeneration scheme in Walsall by funding clean-up work to unlock land for an extra 263 quality homes."
The collaborative approach to unlock land at the Goscote Lane Corridor has involved Walsall Council, the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and Homes England, alongside the WMCA and the City of Wolverhampton Council, which will act as the accountable body to ensure the funding is used and accounted for appropriately.
Cllr Mike Bird, leader of Walsall Council and the WMCA portfolio holder for housing and land, said: "The Goscote Lane Corridor is the biggest residential regeneration scheme in Walsall, and it’s a real collaborative success story, where partners have worked together tirelessly to make this happen.
"The WMCA has played an important role too – its remediation fund can help speed up the delivery of new homes by unlocking brownfield sites quickly. With the aim of building 16,000 new homes a year in the West Midlands, the WMCA’s ability to intervene and enable development in this way will be an important tool to help meet that ambition."
Andy Plant, the design and planning director at the St Francis Group, said: "The dynamics of Homes England combined with the WMCA and the private sector have enabled us to once again recognise and respect the past, and tackle the challenges of the present in order to make the most of the future. The legacy of the Black Country needs this approach and in this case will result in 263 homes from a site that could have lain derelict for generations but for this intervention."
Ninder Johal, board member for the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "This is great news for the Black Country and our shared transformational journey. This funding from the WMCA enables us to bring forward key sites like the Goscote Lane Corridor, building new homes for our residents, ensuring the Black Country continues to be viewed as a great place to live and work."
Lucy Blasdale, head of accelerated delivery at Homes England, said: "Our role is to ensure more people in England have access to better homes in the right places. To make this happen we intervene in the housing market to build more homes where they are needed. We accelerate delivery and help to shape a more resilient and diverse industry. The Goscote Lane site has been a great example where the public sector has worked ‘as one’ with the land owners who will deliver a fully remediated site with an outline planning consent in early 2019.
"We are keen to work collaboratively with partners to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the local community and this is an excellent example of how we are unlocking sites to meet those needs."