Work has begun to transform the site of a derelict steelworks in the Black Country into a new 252-home mixed tenure community.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has awarded a multimillion-pound grant to restore the former Caparo Engineering works in Walsall in partnership with Walsall Council.
The decision to revive the derelict 16-acre site has been made under the WMCA’s ‘brownfield first’ policy, which prioritises new development on former industrial sites ahead of on green belt land.
The £44 million scheme, called Lockside, is the first development for joint venture developer Anthem Lovell LLP, a partnership between the developer Lovell and Anthem Homes, a subsidiary of the West Midlands housing association whg.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “Before coronavirus struck, the West Midlands economy was growing fast, living standards were improving and there was a rapid expansion in house building.
“The pandemic has hit hard but we must not be knocked off course. Throughout the crisis we have continued to use government funding to not only unlock derelict sites like this one for new homes and jobs but to also give local people the skills they need to work in the industries of the future.
“The start of work here is just part of our wider plans to get our economy back on track and regain our previous momentum. By investing in the future, we can safeguard existing jobs, create new ones and give people the opportunity of a good quality, affordable home.”
Wolverhampton-based brownfield experts McAuliffe Group are currently carrying out remediation work to prepare the site for housebuilding, which is set to start this December.
The Lockside development will feature a variety of one, two, three and four-bedroom homes, 132 of which will be available for sale on the open market through Lovell Homes.
Whg, meanwhile, will take on 120 properties on site including 32 for private rent, 38 for affordable rent and shared ownership, and a 50-unit wellbeing housing scheme for over-55s.
Overall, the development will provide 88 ‘affordable’ homes for local people, in accordance with the WMCA’s requirement for each site it invests in to include a minimum of 20% affordable housing.
The project will take five years in total to complete with the first homes expected to be ready for residents by July 2021. During the construction phases Lovell will provide 15 apprenticeships in bricklaying and carpentry.
Stuart Penn, regional managing director at Lovell, said: “We’re delighted to be delivering this joint venture scheme which will expedite the delivery of much-needed new homes to Walsall and considerably boost the local economy as we continue to deal with the backdrop of the pandemic.
“The partnership enables us to pool our respective strengths to create a sustainable, well-designed and high-quality new community for the people of Walsall, whilst also creating jobs, training opportunities and apprenticeships.”
Rebecca Bennett Casserly, corporate director of development at whg, said: “As a community-based landlord and developer, whg is committed to placemaking and creating neighbourhoods that thrive.
“This exciting development will provide homes for a range of tenures, accessible to a diverse range of people at all stages in life.”
It is anticipated that projects like Lockside will help the WMCA hit its target of delivering 215,000 new homes in the West Midlands by 2031.