West Midlands Combined Authority makes first commercial development funding award

A £21.6 million development creating an estimated 425 jobs is the first project to receive backing from a new West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) investment fund.

Two industrial units covering 14 acres and providing a total of 283,000 sq. ft. of accommodation will be built at Kingswood Lakeside, near Cannock, with £7 million from the Combined Investment Fund (CIF).

Midlands-based developer Opus Land has been awarded the money to purchase and develop the site at the former Kingswood open-cast colliery, backed with funding by Bridges Ventures.

West Midlands Combined Authority makes first commercial development funding award

Cllr Gordon Alcott, left, Guy Bowden of Bridges Ventures, Victoria Smith of Opus, and Cllr Bob Sleigh.

Opus has also been awarded grant funding from Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) for land remediation work to prepare it for development.

Kingswood Lakeside comes under Cannock Chase District Council, a non-constituent member of the WMCA.

WMCA chair Cllr Bob Sleigh said: “I am delighted the CIF has made its first award.

“This is the Combined Authority financially supporting a local developer with a strong track record to bring a non-productive site back into economic use.

“This will create jobs and stimulate further investment and prosperity in this region, which is at the heart of what the WMCA was set up to do.”

Cllr Gordon Alcott, deputy leader and economic development and planning portfolio leader for Cannock Chase District Council, said: "I am delighted that the WMCA and GBSLEP have decided to support this excellent scheme put forward by Opus Land with their funding partner, Bridges Ventures. 

“The scheme will provide significant job opportunities and investment into Cannock Chase district and I applaud all those involved in bringing it forward."

Victoria Smith, joint managing director of Henley-in-Arden based Opus, said: “This is Opus’ fourth development at Kingswood Lakeside showing the draw the area has for commercial occupiers.

“The development of this site will provide Grade A industrial accommodation to help plug the acute shortage of industrial and storage land accommodation in the Midlands.”

Ms Smith said Opus was delighted to be working with Bridges, a specialist fund manager that invests in property opportunities with the potential to create positive social and environmental impact alongside attractive returns.

Kingswood Lakeside was previously an open-cast mine which opened in 1939 and closed in 1959. It has seen major re-development since 2002.

Opus’ strong track record of overcoming challenging ground and contamination issues at the site was key to it securing the project.

It is building a new call centre unit there for First Choice, and has previously built a regional distribution hub for courier firm APC, and the offices of waste management company Veolia HQ on adjoining plots.

The CIF is a £70 million commercial development war-chest set up by the WMCA earlier this year to stimulate jobs, opportunity and growth.

It is aimed at unlocking a further £1 billion in private sector investment over the next 10 years.

It is managed by Finance Birmingham and provides short-term loans to private sector developers to enable them to get schemes off the ground.

Nick Oakley, senior investment director at Finance Birmingham said: “We are delighted to be supporting this speculative industrial development which is in an excellent location and will make a significant economic impact to the region.”

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