Express & Star comment: £350m for housing is huge boost
For years policy makers in the West Midlands have fought to solve the region’s housing crisis.
And to put it bluntly, you can probably count the number of successful initiatives on one hand.
For every new housing estate or plot of land earmarked for redevelopment, there has been another 10 sites that have fallen by the wayside.
One of the key problems is a hangover from the region’s role as an industrial powerhouse.
So much of the land that would be perfect for housing has previously been home to industrial sites.
As a result, it is unsuitable due to the vast costs associated with making it safe for redevelopment.
The very last thing anyone wants is to impinge on the West Midlands’ greenbelt.
These factors have contributed to something of a stagnation when it comes to house building in the region.
In the past three years there has been an escalation in developments – the region has averaged 10,000 new homes per year since 2015.
But this is nowhere near enough to cater for a growing population.
All of which makes the Chancellor’s pledge of £350 million for a major house-building programme more than welcome.
Finally, it appears the powers that be are committed to addressing the region’s problems with brownfield sites.
We need drastic action, and after what seems like an eternity the concerns voiced by our local authorities are being taken on board.
There is no doubt West Midlands Mayor Andy Street deserves great credit for his role in attracting the attention of Government ministers.
Along with our council leaders in the shape of the West Midlands Combined Authority, he has put forward a powerful, albeit relatively straightforward, case.
If Britain’s economy wants to flourish, then it is crucial the Government gives the West Midlands the resources it needs to drive economic prosperity.
The obsessive focus of previous administrations on London and the south east has been a proven failure. Change is coming, and it needs to come fast.
While moves progress to sort out our broken transport networks, it is only right the housing crisis is also dealt with in a decisive manner.