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£200m fund to help deliver 12,000 homes

A £200 million fund will be used to clean up brownfield land across the West Midlands for new homes .

Rob Flavell, senior director of St Modwens Homes; Councillor Ian Courts, leader of Solihull Council and portfolio holder for housing and land at the WMCA, and Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands at West Works

It was announced at West Works, Longbridge, once home to the biggest car factory in Europe, where West Midlands Combined Authority support has helped unlock land for new housing and business development

After lying derelict for years, the long-awaited regeneration of the works is well on the way to completion as hundreds of new homes and a major business park take shape on the site of the former car factory.

The 75-acre West Works project is the latest phase in a £1 billion regeneration of the colossal Rover car plant which at its peak employed more than 25,000 people.

The project, featuring 350 homes and a 900,000 sq ft of business premises creating 5,000 new jobs, was unlocked by a £6 million investment three years ago from WMCA as part of its nationally acclaimed ‘brownfield first’ programme which targets new housing on former industrial sites.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, confirmed the £200m funding pot to spearhead the delivery of another 12,000 new homes on brownfield land across the region.

At least 2,400 of these new dwellings will be affordable homes as residential schemes receiving investment from the WMCA must make a minimum 20 pre cent of the new homes affordable. The West Midlands was also the first region in the UK to adopt a localised definition of affordable housing linked to real world local incomes rather than property prices.

To date, of the 6,285 homes unlocked by WMCA investments since 2018, a total of 2,045 are affordable – nearly a third.

These properties being built with the support of WMCA funding are also helping to keep the region on track to exceed its housing target of 215,000 new homes by 2031.

The Mayor said: “The derelict Longbridge site was always a stark and painful reminder of how far the West Midlands had fallen during the so-called ‘boom years’ as the rest of the country surged forward.

“But standing on the iconic site now, when so much life has been breathed back into it, shows just how far we have come in recent years. It is a wonderful example of this region’s undefeatable spirit and its ability to roll up its sleeves and bounce back.

“And it hasn’t happened by accident. We have used the hundreds of millions of pounds secured from government over the last six years to relentlessly deliver on our brownfield first commitment. This has helped transform dozens of former industrial sites – including Longbridge’s West Works – into quality, affordable homes and decent jobs for local people. This approach has also helped protect our precious green belt from the bulldozer.

“But this is just the start. With another £200m now available to regenerate even more brownfield sites, we are ready to double down and deliver even more affordable homes and quality jobs.”

The West Works was a key part of the old Rover plant, once the largest car factory in Europe. But in 2000, Rover Cars and the Longbridge factory were sold to the Phoenix Consortium, which renamed it MG Rover Group, in a management buyout for a symbolic tenner.

Then, in April 2005, the MG Rover group went into administration leaving more than 6,000 workers without jobs.

The 468-acre site fell into disrepair before developers St Modwen, acquired it in 2005.

West Works is now being transformed with homes, Longbridge Business Park and open spaces all linked by new cycling and walking routes.

The River Rea, hidden for decades, has been re-naturalised for the first time in almost a century. The mile-long route will reconnect Rubery and Longbridge town centres.

A riverside park is also being created to provide high-quality outdoor space and develop a sense of community and enhance biodiversity.

The land is one of the most significant regeneration schemes in the UK, with the latest phase of development taking the total number of jobs delivered across Longbridge to a combined total of over 3,500 jobs to date, with many more to follow.

New offices, a new town centre and park, Bournville College, and facilities such as the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, have already been delivered.

Sarwjit Sambhi, chief executive of St Modwen, said: “The £1bn restoration of Longbridge is a fantastic example of what can be achieved through the regeneration of brownfield land.

“The closure of the car plant back in 2005 had a severe impact on the local economy and we are incredibly proud to play our part in bringing the site back to life as a manufacturing hub and thriving business community which has so far delivered more than 3,000 jobs, alongside more than 1,500 new homes.

“This has all been achieved through public-private partnership. Our multi-million pound investment deal with WMCA agreed in 2021 allowed us to accelerate the delivery of vital infrastructure at West Works which gave businesses such as Waters Corporation, IVC Evidensia and Allsee Technologies the confidence to invest in the area.

“The scheme provides a template for the regeneration of large-scale brownfield sites across the West Midlands and beyond.”

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