The region’s first ever taskforce dedicated to unlocking publicly owned land for housing and regeneration has been launched by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The taskforce brings together leading property experts across the public and private sectors to explore how public land could be used to provide greater benefit to local communities and the wider region. The taskforce will support wider collaboration and best practice in the development and disposal of public land in the West Midlands.
The total amount of land in the West Midlands in public ownership amounts to over 5,500 hectares. This represents a major opportunity to realise the economic value of these assets and ensure local communities and businesses directly benefit from their disposal and development.
The taskforce is being chaired by Stephen Barter, chairman of Wilton Capital Advisers. He has more than 40 years of real estate experience as an investor, developer and adviser. Among other appointments, he is a Special Adviser to Transport for London on the future funding and management of its land and buildings.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “At the WMCA, we have identified that public land can play a vital part in our economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. We have brought together senior leaders from the public and private sectors with expertise in land and real estate, convening to unlock the unrealised land potential in the public estate.
“By supporting the identification of surplus land to meet the additional housing and employment needs of the region and enable additional social infrastructure, the Taskforce can offer insight into how land can be used to fast-track an inclusive economic recovery for the region.”
Stephen Barter, chair of the West Midlands Public Land Taskforce, commented: “The taskforce provides a terrific opportunity to harness the special knowledge and expertise of key industry players from across the region in one forum, in order to devise collaborative solutions to unlock the productive use of public land to promote growth and community benefit at a faster pace.
“The taskforce will seek to build upon the success of brownfield regeneration programmes within the West Midlands over many years. By making better use of public land to meet local needs within the region for affordable homes and high-quality jobs in a more joined-up way, we want to create further shared achievements for the region and the communities who call it home.
“In a region like the West Midlands, which has one of Europe’s youngest and fastest growing populations, the future needs to be about partnerships to deliver more high-quality, affordable homes and related infrastructure to meet increasing demand. By advising on a collaborative and strategic approach to the management of public land, in addition to influencing national policy and strengthening investor relationships, the taskforce will support the WMCA and other public agencies in their efforts to meet this challenge and build a better future.”
The establishment of the taskforce is part of a wider Public Land programme at the WMCA which was formed as part of the WMCA’s Covid-19 recovery blueprint - Kickstarting the West Midlands Economy: Our Investment Case to Government
Organisations involved in the taskforce include: Homes England, British Property Federation, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Legal and General, Arup, Argent, Lovells, Urban Splash, Birmingham City Council, NHS Property Services, Canal & River Trust, Transport for West Midlands, Wilton Capital Advisors, WMCA, West Midlands Urban Community Homes, Segro, Savills, Home Builders Federation, Sigma Capital, Telford and Wrekin Council, Citizen Housing, Environment Agency, Cast Consulting, One Public Estate, Coventry and Warwickshire LEP, West Midlands Combined Universities, Birmingham City University, St Modwen, Useful Projects, West Midlands Housing Association Partnership.