Region’s ambitious target to build 215,000 new homes remains on track
12th January 2024
... Comments

Latest Government figures show that in the 12 months to March 2023 the number of new homes built in the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) area was 15,690. This was despite a challenging year for the housing industry which faced a backdrop of high inflation with rising costs for construction materials and mortgages and a dip in market confidence.

Although the number of homes built was down on the previous year’s 17,276, which followed a strong post-pandemic bounce back, they follow several years in which the West Midlands has exceeded the 15,257 new homes it needs to build annually to stay on course to hit the 215,000 target.

Thousands of the homes built over recent years are a direct result of a ‘brownfield first’ approach by the WMCA which continued to invest tens of millions of pounds throughout the pandemic to unlock more derelict urban sites for new homes and commercial premises.

Since signing a landmark housing deal with Government in 2018, WMCA investments alone have unlocked more than 8,000 new homes, 12,000 new jobs and 3.8 million sq ft of commercial floorspace.

One resident who has benefitted from the WMCA’s housing investments is Mukarram Janhanzaib, a driving instructor in his 60s. After 20 years of renting, Mr Janhanzaib had found it "impossible" to secure a standard 25-year mortgage.

Now, he is the proud owner of one of 120 affordable homes that have been built on the site of the former Caparo steel works in Walsall thanks to a £4m investment by the WMCA.

The ‘Lockside’ development is the first for joint venture developer Anthem Lovell LLP - a partnership between house builder Lovell Homes and Anthem Homes, a subsidiary of the whg housing association.

Mr Janhanzaib, a father of three, was able to buy 40% of his home through a shared ownership scheme and slash his monthly housing outgoings by around two thirds.

"I’m really happy to move in, it’s a dream come true,” he said. “When they gave me the keys it was very emotional. I now have a very nice, good quality home for my grown-up children to come round and visit.

“Before I moved in last November, I was paying around £950 a month in private rent. Now I’m paying just £246. That is a massive help to me and I no longer feel under pressure to work long hours just to cover my outgoings.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “These latest figures are good news for local people like Mr Janhanzaib - helping them access high quality, affordable and energy efficient homes.

"I'm heartened to see that - despite the inflationary and other pressures facing the house building industry - we've instilled much needed market confidence and continued to get homes built. 

“Throughout the pandemic, we kept projects moving forward and regenerated more brownfield sites. We have a house building record here in the West Midlands that is leading the way in the UK and changing the lives of residents for the better right across our region. That mission must and will continue in the months and years ahead."

The latest net additional figures released by government reflect the region’s reputation as a national leader in brownfield regeneration, using the £600m and more it has secured from government since 2018 to unlock wider benefits and outcomes for the whole West Midlands.

House building in the metropolitan area has predominantly been focused on the region’s former industrial land, often referred to as brownfield, to help transform eyesore, derelict sites into thriving new communities while relieving pressure to build in the Green Belt.

Many of those sites, such as the former Harvestime bread factory in Walsall, the once iconic West Works at the former MG Rover plant in Longbridge and the Cookley Works steel factory in Brierley Hill, had stood derelict for decades with developers reluctant to take them on because of the high costs associated with cleaning up the land.

But with support from the region’s pro-regeneration local councils, the WMCA has targeted funding on cleaning up the sites, a process known as land remediation, and this has often proved the last piece of the jigsaw in getting developers over the final hurdle.

In return, developers must make a minimum 20% of the new homes affordable using the WMCA's own regional definition of affordability, which is linked to real world local wages rather than local property prices.

Cllr Ian Courts, WMCA portfolio holder for housing and land and leader of Solihull Council, said: “These latest figures are very encouraging especially considering what have been challenging conditions for the industry over the past year. Nevertheless, we shall not be taking our foot off the pedal when it comes to building new homes and communities where they are needed most.

“Using our funding we will continue to unlock brownfield sites to create the places for affordable, energy efficient homes, as well as modern workspaces where businesses can grow and deliver the new jobs we need. This will remain a key objective as we continue to grow our regional economy in way that can benefit all our communities while supporting our net zero #WM2041 ambitions.”

Stuart Penn, regional managing director at Lovell, said: “These latest figures reflect the true collaboration between public and private sector to deliver high quality, affordable homes in areas people want to live.

“Our partnership with the WMCA has not only seen regional needs supported through accelerating affordable housing but has worked to unlock stalled brownfield sites that would otherwise be disused. Despite the industry-wide challenges of the last few years, we’ve crucially continued to tackle the housing crisis together.”


Popular Categories