£200m property war chest open to developers

Rob Flavell (St Modwen Homes), Cllr Ian Courts (Leader of Solihull Council) and Andy Street

A £200m funding pot has been opened by the West Midlands Combined Authority, to fuel the delivery of 12,000 new homes on brownfield land across the region.

Andy Street and Carla Richardson, St Modwen Homes

At least 2,400 homes will be classed as affordable housing, as schemes receiving investment from the WMCA must make a minimum of 20% of the new homes affordable.

The new fund, first announced in December, is set to help the WMCA exceed its target of building 215,000 homes by 2031.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street opened the fund to developers today on a site visit to the West Works project in Longbridge. It’s a £1bn regeneration scheme that is developing 350 homes and 900,000 sq ft of business premises as well as generating 5,000 jobs.

West Works was a key part of the old Rover plant – once the largest car factory in Europe, which at its peak, employed more than 25,000 people across 468 acres.

In 2000, Rovers Cars and the Longbridge factory were sold to the Phoenix Consortium, which renamed it MG Rover Group.

The firm fell into administration in April 2005, leaving more than 6,000 workers without jobs and many pensions eradicated. St Modwen picked up the site that same year.

Street said: “The derelict Longbridge site was always a stark and painful reminder of how far the West Midlands had fallen during the so-called ‘boom years’ as the rest of the country surged forward.

“But standing on the iconic site now, when so much life has been breathed back into it, shows just how far we have come in recent years. It is a wonderful example of this region’s undefeatable spirit and its ability to roll up its sleeves and bounce back.

“And it hasn’t happened by accident. We have used the hundreds of millions of pounds secured from government over the last six years to relentlessly deliver on our brownfield first commitment. This has helped transform dozens of former industrial sites – including Longbridge’s West Works – into quality, affordable homes and decent jobs for local people. This approach has also helped protect our precious green belt from the bulldozer.

“But this is just the start. With another £200 million now available to regenerate even more brownfield sites, we are ready to double down and deliver even more affordable homes and quality jobs.”

A £6m investment by the WMCA helped to unlock the West Works scheme three years ago, as part of its ‘brownfield first’ programme which targets new housing on former industrial sites.

The River Rea has been re-naturalised for the first time in almost a century and its mile-long route will reconnect Rubery and Longbridge town centres.

New offices, a town centre and park, Bournville College and facilities such as the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, have already been delivered.

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