The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has announced the start of work to build 234 new homes on a former industrial site in the Black Country.
Construction work on the site of a former foundry on Fountain Lane in Oldbury, where developer Lovell Partnerships is set to build 234 new homes. Just under half of the homes will be made available for affordable tenures.
The clearance of the site, the latest to be regenerated under the WMCA’s “brownfield first” policy, was supported by a £3.95 million investment from the government’s Brownfield Land Fund, announced by the WMCA earlier this year.
The multi-million pound Brownfield Land Fund aims to unlock derelict sites for development in order to protect green belt land and create new jobs and homes.
Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “Housebuilding on brownfield land has been one of the region’s real success stories of recent years, and it is brilliant that we’re keeping up that momentum and not being knocked off course by the pandemic.
“Work commencing at Fountain Lane also comes at a critical time as we look to protect the Black Country’s irreplaceable green belt by continuing to bring forward brownfield land sites for development.
“The WMCA will continue to work with partners to use the cash it has won from government to clean up eyesore sites all across the West Midlands, helping to pave the way for new communities and truly affordable homes.”
Under the terms of the WMCA’s investment, at least 20% of the 234 homes must be classed as affordable under the WMCA’s own definition of affordability, which is linked to real-world local wages rather than property prices.
The Fountain Lane scheme will exceed that minimum requirement with 49% of the new homes set to be made available for affordable rent and shared ownership.
Fountain Lane forms part of a partnership agreement struck between the WMCA and Lovell in September 2019, which aims to accelerate the unlocking of brownfield land for development.
The agreement aims to deliver 4,000 new homes over the next eight years, supporting the region’s aim to build 215,000 new homes by 2031.
Stuart Penn, regional managing director for Lovell Partnerships, said: “We are so pleased to see work getting underway on site for this latest development with the WMCA.
“Together we aim to create a lasting legacy in Oldbury and for the residents of the Black Country. The high-quality homes we build and jobs we provide in the process will contribute massively to the post-pandemic economic bounce back in the region.”
Cllr Rajbir Singh, leader of Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, commented: “This prominent site has been vacant for a number of years. It’s always very challenging to bring land like this back into productive use given the industrial legacy that it comes with.
“We’re delighted to be working with the developer and the WMCA breathing new life into the site and providing much-needed new, and affordable housing for the people of Sandwell.”
Cllr Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio holder for housing and land, and leader of Walsall Council, added: “WMCA’s brownfield regeneration programme has continued throughout the pandemic and is increasingly seen as nationally leading.
“Not only is Fountain Lane another great example of how we are investing now to support the region’s economic recovery from COVID-19, it also another step towards achieving our ambition of building the 215,000 new homes the West Midlands will need by 2031.
“Many of these brownfield sites we are unlocking have stood neglected and unused for decades and would remain that way without critical investment by the WMCA. If we had not used the housing and land funds we have secured from the government, Fountain Lane could not have proceeded.”
Image (l-r): Cllr Rajbir Singh, leader of Sandwell Council, Stuart Penn, regional MD of Lovell, and Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands on site at Fountain Lane. Credit: WMCA.