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14/03/2016
Black Country to build Britain’s biggest ever Garden City writes Chris Handy, Black Country LEP Board Member

Blog post by Dr Chris Handy OBE - LEP board member:

The American Consul to Birmingham once described the Black Country to be "black by day and red by night.” This was in 1868. The modern Black Country is very different but that mighty industrial legacy remains.

So today the Black Country is growing by way of its population, industry and economy, and I with colleagues, will be sharing this message at MIPIM all this week.

In the Black Country we are particularly lucky to have thriving automotive and aeronautical sectors, significantly enhanced by JLR.

We have a huge number of world class engineering firms located in the Black Country which sell top quality products right around the world.

We have terrific transport links, including an international airport just 40 minutes away. We are flanked by four motorways, have three mainline railway stations with direct links to London and of course are minutes away from Birmingham as the professional centre of the Midlands. All to be enhanced by the arrival of HS2.

We have several renowned visitor attractions and thriving entertainment and creative industry activities right across our patch. Not only that but we can gain access within minutes from anywhere in the Black Country to open countryside. 

Today at MIPIM we will announce that we will build 45,000 homes over the next 10 years supported by demand within our growing population which will support our economic growth plans. This will bring an investment of some £6bn across the Black Country, with enough land for some 35,000 homes already identified. If the local supply chain is fully utilised in the production of these homes, suggesting the money could circulate 3 to 4 times then over the ten year period some £18-24bn of economic activity could be generated.

It is the combination of this ambition to build these homes our well-established urban infrastructure that inspired David Tittle from the renowned Made community architectural group to expound the concept of an urban garden city for the Black Country. David’s original idea has been expanded and developed to cover the whole of the Black Country area, on the basis of a series of garden towns, some 30 in all. Rather than start a garden city from scratch why not use the principles in the context of the 21st Century and shape a garden city using existing urban form and infrastructure, strengthening our existing communities and maximising the use of our land resources along the way.

So we have a major opportunity generated through the development of these 45,000 and the investment that these bring to market a set of credible development proposals and propositions which can have a major transformational impact on the urban form and quality of the Black Country.

We would like investors, developers, builders, planners and policy makers to share this opportunity and deliver that vision over the next ten years. The Black Country is open for business.

You can read more about our Garden City here: www.blackcountrylep.co.uk/place

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