A West Midlands Land Commission (WMLC) has been launched to provide the region’s combined authority with advice and recommendations for unlocking hundreds of hectares of brownfield sites for development of new homes and other uses.
The combined authority said that with land supply already constrained, identifying former industrial sites for redevelopment will be critical to meeting future housing demand and the delivery of its Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to attract an extra 20,000 businesses and 500,000 jobs to the region by 2030. The authority has set a target of developing an extra 1,600 hectares of brownfield land for commercial use over the coming decade.
The commission, which will act as an independent body, is also seen as a key element of the combined authority’s devolution with the Government, which is designed to drive £8bn worth of investment in improving productivity and skills, new transport infrastructure and homes, and increasing the general prosperity of the West Midlands’ four million residents.
Councillor Sean Coughlan, leader of Walsall Council and WMCA lead for housing and land, said: “We can’t make any more land and that means we need to make the very best use of the land we have. The WMLC will provide an opportunity to consider the many aspects which affect the supply and usage of land across the West Midlands.”
Paul Marcuse, chairman of the management board of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a former group managing director of UBS, has agreed to chair the WMLC.
The commission has launched a Call for Evidence to gather information on the challenges in developing land, the blockages in the system and potential measures that could secure sufficient land.
“WMLC is being established at a time of unprecedented opportunity for the region,” Marcuse said.
“A combination of the recent establishment of the WMCA and its devolution deal with Government and the very significant infrastructure investment being made in the region provides a singular opportunity to review the wealth of complex issues affecting the supply of land.
“I am delighted to have been invited to chair the WMLC and look forward to working with Councillor Coughlan and colleagues from local government, the real estate industry and employers across the region as we jointly address the many issues which affect the supply of land in the West Midlands.”