• 45,000 new homes planned as region seeks to increase capacity, win more business investment and sustain its economic renaissance
• Black Country is the fastest growing area within the Midlands, and attracted record levels of foreign business investment last year
• Regional leaders believe now is the time to increase housing capacity and lay the foundations for future success, avoiding the supply issues that have blighted London and the South East
Britain’s biggest ever Garden City will be built across some 30 towns near to and within Wolverhampton, in the heart of the Black Country, the region has announced today.
The development is designed to cater for unprecedented demand for housing and to sustain record levels of private sector investment coming into the region.
More than 45,000 new homes will be built in the Black Country Garden City in what will be one of Britain’s biggest ever brownfield site regenerations, covering more than 1,500 hectares. Building work is set to start this year and will be finished by 2026.
The new Garden City is a vital part of the region’s plan to win business investment and sustain its economic growth, transforming the region as a place to live and work. The Black Country is the fastest growing area within the Midlands, its economy expanded 4.5% in 2013, and it attracted record levels of foreign business investment last year in what is Britain’s most successful Enterprise Zone.
And regional leaders believe now is the time to increase housing capacity and lay the foundations for future success, avoiding the supply issues that have blighted London and the South East. The Garden City will boost the local economy by £18 billion over ten years and will be a magnet for investment into its internationally established automotive, aerospace and construction sectors – which account for 60% of UK automotive R&D; 20% of the UK’s total aerospace output; and through construction technologies contribute more than £1 billion to the UK economy.
The increase in capacity is designed to boost housing capacity for workers in those sectors, but is also a reaction to unprecedented demand for housing triggered by record levels of business investment. House prices in nearby Wolverhampton grew more than 8 per cent last year, and its population is swelling by 5.5 per cent every year.
Local leaders are determined to use the Garden City to attract skilled workers, and to retain graduates from the ten West Midlands based Universities, including the University of Wolverhampton in the Black Country. They believe the development will create a vibrant area for the arts, heritage, street food, performance and crafts, which will boost the region’s credentials as a place to live.
Communities Secretary Greg Clark commented:
"The Black Country Garden City symbolises the region’s ambition. It will deliver modern new housing that will be a magnet for business investment, notably in advanced manufacturing and construction, which will boost the local economy and supply the houses local families want.
"Schemes like this are a vital part of the work this Government is doing to rebalance the economy and build the homes our country needs. House building is at a seven year high, but we’re determined to go even further and deliver on our pledge to build over one million new homes.”
Never before has a Garden City been built to bring together existing towns into one conurbation. Thirty one urban areas, from Aldridge to West Bromwich, will combine to form the City.
The development is being led by the Black Country LEP and the Homes and Communities Agency, with the support of the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The region is seeking £6 billion in investment across 550 sites, and will be setting its stall out to potential investors at the annual MIPIM property festival in Cannes, taking place this week.
Dr Chris Handy OBE, Black Country LEP board member, said: "The Garden City is a vital part of the Black Country’s growth plans and future success. It will increase the appeal of the region as a place to live and work, and will boost the local construction industry and its supply chain. It is close to skilled jobs and universities, a regional market of 5 million people, and is served by quality transport connections. Not the since the Second World War has a Garden City been built on this scale or at this speed. It’s going to transform the perception of the Black Country and demonstrate to the rest of Britain that we are a region that is going places.”
The new Garden City is part of a wider series of transformations happening across the West Midlands, in a region revitalised by private sector investment and emboldened by its devolution deal. The redevelopment of swathes of Birmingham’s city centre finished last year, and the city has laid out plans to build 80,000 new homes by 2030. And Solihull has set out plans to regenerate the UK Central area around NEC and Birmingham Airport, which is expected to create 100,000 jobs and boost GDP by £19.5 billion by 2040.
Picture caption: Black Country Garden City - example of low carbon timber houses.