Combined housing project to provide 5,000 new homes

West Midlands Combined Authority unveils housing growth prospectus for Greater Icknield and Smethwick.

A blueprint to accelerate the building of more than 5,000 new homes in Birmingham and the Black Country has been unveiled.

The Greater Icknield and Smethwick Housing Growth Prospectus has been launched by the West Midlands Combined Authority. Developed in conjunction with Birmingham City Council and Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, the scheme will drive a £400 million development of 5,160 new homes on five brownfield sites in the adjoining areas of Greater Icknield, in Birmingham, and Smethwick, in Sandwell.
They are:
· Grove Lane
· Icknield Port Loop
· Spring Hill
· Brindley Canalside
· Windmill Eye

The scheme has already attracted investment and commitments from public and private sector partners, including a further £400 million in infrastructure improvements.

The schemes were originally unveiled in February this year but the prospectus sets out how their growth can be accelerated over the next 10-15 years through local and central government funding and stimulating private sector investment. Several approaches would be taken to encourage growth, including applying to the government for the area to be granted Housing Zone status.

This is a government programme used to speed up work on brownfield sites, enabling homes to be delivered more quickly by enabling local authorities to work in partnership with private developers. Other approaches include working with strategic partners, landowners and occupiers to identify development opportunities, streamlining the planning process, and expanding arrangements with bodies such as the Homes and Communities Agency.

Councillor John Clancy, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “This isn’t just about bricks and mortar; it’s about transforming lives and futures.

“We want to rejuvenate and create neighbourhoods that are well connected, have a good range of facilities and services, and are attractive to residents and investors. By expanding our partnership working and targeting funding to revive brownfield sites, either by financing infrastructure or supporting individual schemes, we can give developers and investors the confidence to get to work and provide badly needed homes.”

Cllr Steve Eling, leader of Sandwell Council, added: “The Greater Icknield and Smethwick housing scheme has already attracted considerable investment and commitment from the public and private sector.

“We have a shared vision, delivery is already underway and we want to keep that momentum going. This prospectus sets out what we are doing to bring forward that vision – putting brownfield land to good use to accommodate quality new housing.”

The Grove Lane scheme in Smethwick has the £353 million Midland Metropolitan Hospital at its heart and will see approximately 900 new houses and apartments being built. This includes 142 homes on the former Atlas Metals site, with 40 expected to be completed in 2016/17 and scope for a further 40 on land to the west of the site.

The former Heartlands Furniture site will provide 250-300 homes, with a longer term option for approximately 30 further homes while the Icknield Port Loop scheme will provide 1,800 homes.

The main development will be 1,150 homes at Icknield Port Loop itself, being delivered by Urban Splash and Places for People in conjunction with Birmingham City Council and the Canal and River Trust.

Further developments in the area include converting former industrial buildings in Ledsam Street to create 200 homes, and potentially a further 100 homes on Severn Trent’s former Waterworks Road depot.

The Spring Hill scheme will see up to 750 homes on part of the site of the current City Hospital in Dudley Road, Birmingham, which will be vacated once the Midland Metropolitan Hospital opens in 2018.

A further part of this scheme is Soho Loop, which will see a further 500 homes built between Icknield Port Loop and the City Hospital site.

The Brindley Canalside scheme provides 755 homes on three sites located alongside the Birmingham Canal in Smethwick. This includes up to 400 potential new houses and apartments in the Rolfe Street area, and 200 new homes around Rabone Lane.

Windmill Eye would see a further 450 new homes in the existing housing development north of Cape Hill. These would be at two sites in Crocketts Lane and two around Raglan Road/Durban Road.

Birmingham and Sandwell Councils are collaborating on a range of infrastructure investments to support the scheme. This includes £30 million of improvements to the A457 to provide better access to Birmingham city centre and the M5, plus enhancement works to Dudley Road, Cape Hill, Soho Way and Smethwick High Street. There will also be a £16 million new secondary school on St Vincent Street West and a £10 million eight lane 25 metre competition swimming pool at Icknield Port Loop.