£200m war chest to unlock new housing

The West Midlands Combined Authority has unveiled a £200m “war chest” to unlock more former industrial sites for new housing.

It’s expected that 12,000 homes could be generated through the funding, which developers will be able to apply for in the new year.

The proposals set out are designed to encourage developers who are awarded WMCA investment to go above and beyond the national government’s forthcoming ‘Future Homes Standard’ – due to come into force in 2025 and also required to make a minimum of 20% of those homes affordable.

This includes homes with the latest eco-technology such as solar panels, super insulation, and heat pumps.

There are an estimated 235,512 fuel-poor homes in the West Midlands – the highest rate of fuel poverty in any English region at 17.5%, with some areas experiencing much higher rates of more than 40%.

More than half of all neighbourhoods in the West Midlands are in the bottom 20% when it comes to fuel poverty, nearly three times the national average.

Speaking at the launch event at the National Brownfield Institute in Wolverhampton, Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: “The research we have undertaken on home heating costs is stark, and shows why doubling-down on low-carbon homes in the West Midlands is so important.

“In order to do this – and help tackle the fuel poverty and climate emergency we face across the region – we must have a proper plan in place for future housebuilding in the region. That’s what our Homes for the Future proposals do, and I’m delighted we’ve been able to launch it today.

“It comes alongside our re-commitment to housebuilding and brownfield regeneration in the West Midlands, with this latest £200 million war chest being made available to help unlock former industrial sites and brownfield land for housing.

“We’ve been using this ‘Brownfield First’ approach to such success since 2017 that we believe we are the only region to remain on track to reach their housing target.”

“But we must continue our progress, and we hope this £200 million will help unlock a further 12,000 homes for local residents across the West Midlands.”

About 340,000 new homes are needed in England each year, of which 145,000 should be classed as affordable, according to research commissioned by the National Housing Federation and the homeless charity Crisis from Heriot-Watt University.

The West Midlands has set its target of 215,000 new homes by 2031 which could add 3,700 jobs to the regions economy.

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