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Black Country's £28m boost to kick start economic recovery

Eight ‘shovel ready’ projects, ranging from the National Brownfield Land Institute to Very Light Rail developments are to benefit from £66 million of Government funding secured for the region, £28 million of this is being spent in the Black Country.

The money from the Government’s Getting Building Fund is aimed at projects which can be started quickly and completed within 18 months. This creates jobs and drives investment to aid the economic recovery following the coronavirus lockdown.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) working with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, the Black Country LEP and the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP recently delivered the region’s prioritised list of projects to Government.

The list was confirmed today (Tuesday August 4) by Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick during a visit to the site of the planned National Brownfield Land Institute at the University of Wolverhampton. The Institute is one of the eight schemes to benefit from the funding.

Combined, the projects will create about 2,110 jobs, as well as support 1,419 construction jobs during development.

The projects are:

  • £15.1m towards the redevelopment of University Station in Edgbaston
  • £1m towards WM5G’s work with small and medium sized business to develop ground breaking apps
  • £10.8m to provide innovation spaces and research laboratories at the Birmingham Health Innovation Campus
  • £12.4m for the Very Light Rail Innovation Centre in Dudley where new modes of transport which are both green and cheaper and quicker to deliver than traditional tram or rail are being developed.
  • The National Brownfield Land Institute, at the University of Wolverhampton will receive £14.9m. It will research and develop new construction methods and ways of regenerating contaminated land
  • £6m towards Coventry City of Culture to support various initiatives to make the most of the opportunities presented by 2021 – including the creation of a new heritage park • Coventry’s Very Light Rail project to receive £1.8m
  • £3.9m towards improved facilities at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry as part of the Commonwealth Games legacy scheme 

Tom Westley DL, Chair of the Black Country LEP Board said:

“This investment from Government will see a boost to the whole West Midlands economy. Here in the Black Country we are ready to go with the National Brownfield Land Institute with timescales in place to ensure quick delivery.

“It will create jobs, see investment in business and support skills development across the area as well as provide an opportunity to showcase the innovative skills already here in the Black Country. We look forward to working with all our partners to see the full range of projects take shape as we continue to drive economic growth locally and regionally.”

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said:

"I am absolutely delighted – I asked for this to be treated as the highest of priorities by the government and they have come through for us.

"The Very Light Rail Test Track and National Innovation Centre (NIC) is a key project for our borough.

"It will offer an innovative and exciting opportunity to provide lower cost local rail connectivity, encouraging shift from private vehicles towards public transport.

"It will put Dudley on the national map – and with the money in place, things will now start to move quickly to deliver it. "

Cllr Ian Brookfield, WMCA portfolio holder for the economy and leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council said:

“In our recovery blueprint we have set out clear priorities to get the West Midlands back to work and the economy back on track.

“These eight projects are ones which, with this extra money, we can get started on straight away to create thousands of jobs and generate further investment.

“We are also looking to the future through these projects, such as the National Brownfield Institute in Wolverhampton, which will develop innovative methods and approaches to unlocking brownfield land and help us meet the demand to build more houses.

"It will be part of a nationally and internationally significant centre of excellence for built environment technologies and will help the city and the region develop a global reputation in this field.” 

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

“At a difficult time for the West Midlands’ economy brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, it is great to see the Government putting further cash on the table to help aid our recovery.

“This £66m from the Getting Building Fund will go towards exciting, shovel-ready, projects across the region that will make an immediate difference by helping to create and secure local jobs for local people.

“As well as an immediate investment to re-boot our local economy, the money secured through the fund is also an investment in our future, to secure the West Midlands’ place as a global leader in green and clean technology, life sciences, transport of the future, and construction.

“This announcement is just one part of our much bigger plans to reset, recharge and rebuild the West Midlands economy by investing in the future and retaining current jobs and creating new ones.”

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