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Midlands targets 1,575 homes on brownfield sites

The West Midlands Combined Authority has been recommended to approve a £70m investment fund aimed at the residential sector and extending the £70m commercial investment fund by a further £70m in a recent Investment Board Meeting Agenda.

The residential funding aims to accelerate the redevelopment of brownfield sites where at least 50 housing units can be built, and the commercial fund focuses on the urban renewal of void or derelict sites.

The purpose of the fund is to find economic regeneration opportunities that require financing. Funding is lent to developers from the Collective Investment Fund at commercial rates that reflect the level of risk and these loans are paid back within 12 to 24 months. The returned funds are then re-invested in new projects.

To date, its investments are projected to regenerate 62.54a of brownfield land, more than 115,000m² of commercial space, and create 2,528 new jobs.

Land acquisition papers have been presented to the Investment Board, which could deliver 1,575 new homes. These are in Friar Park in Sandwell, Bean Road in Dudley; and Dixon Street and Grimstone Road in Wolverhampton.

"The Land Fund secured in the Housing Deal is designed to expedite housing delivery in the region, and as such WMCA has been activity negotiating terms for the purchase of a number of key sites agreed by local councils as part of the process of implementing the Housing Deal," the Agenda document notes.

"The three (sic) now presented for consideration by the Investment Board form part of these priority acquisitions. Taken together, WMCA investment in these three (sic) sites by way of WMCA devolved housing and land funding will deliver over 1,575 new homes, and potentially unlock a further 1,000 homes on adjacent land, as part of a proposed development partnership."

The WMCA is negotiating terms on other sites prioritised for acquisition by local authorities across the region. The remediation and infrastructure investment in these plots will then hopefully make them far more attractive as housing development sites.

The document adds that papers for the acquisition of complex sites in Walsall and Willenhall will be brought before the March 2019 Investment Board for consideration.

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