WMCA launches taskforce to unlock public land for housing

The West Midlands Public Land Taskforce will explore how public land could be better used to benefit local communities and the region.
The skyline over Birmingham. Credit: Pixabay

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has launched the region’s first ever taskforce for unlocking public land for housing and regeneration.

The West Midlands Public Land Taskforce will bring together property experts from the public and private sectors, including representatives from local and national government, developers and housing associations, to explore how public land could be used to the greater benefit of local communities and the region.

The West Midlands has over 5,500 hectares of land in public ownership, and the taskforce will support wider collaboration and best practice in the development and disposal of public land.

Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, 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.”

The taskforce forms part of the WMCA’s wider Public Land programme which is itself part of the combined authority’s COVID-19 recovery blueprint.

Organisations involved in the 30-strong taskforce include the WMCA, Homes England, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Birmingham City Council, and the recently formed West Midlands Housing Association Partnership.

The tasforce will be chaired by Stephen Barter, chair of investment firm Wilton Capital Advisers which will also be involved with the taskforce. Barter has over 40 years’ experience in real estate and is currently a special adviser to Transport for London on the future funding and management of its land and buildings.

Barter 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.”

Image: The skyline over Birmingham. Credit: Pixabay

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