West Midlands authorities set to agree plan to accelerate growth

Local planning authorities in the West Midlands are set to sign up to an action plan committing them to 'ensure appropriate provision' is made to accommodate Greater Birmingham's and the Black Country's huge housing shortfalls.

Birmingham: WMCA board to discuss report later this week (picture: Antony Hollingworth, Flickr)
Birmingham: WMCA board to discuss report later this week (picture: Antony Hollingworth, Flickr)

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), chaired by West Midlands mayor Andy Street, will consider a land delivery action plan at its board meeting later this week.

The document proposes a package of interventions intended to speed up the supply of land and, if agreed, would commit local planning authorities in the area to a set of principles for joint action intended to accelerate the delivery of housing and employment space.

The action plan commits WMCA constituent and non-constituent members to "meet the housing need in their area … and through the duty to cooperate work across the West Midlands on a consensual basis".

The plan also commits authorities to, through the duty to cooperate, "ensure that appropriate provision is made within the Greater Birmingham and Black Country Housing Market Area to accommodate the identified shortfall of 38,000 to 2031 and an unmet need of 20,000 to 2036 in Black Country".

Authorities are also required to establish "high quality development focused planning services … that consistently deliver outcomes within the government’s 13-16 week turnaround targets".

The document also says that the WMCA will facilitate the development of a "spatial expression" which captures, in a single document, the existing spatial strategies for the "3 LEP geography", covering the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP and the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP, as well as for surrounding areas "which have a strong physical and functional relationship with the West Midlands".

"The benefit of this work will be to collectively agree the identification of strategic priorities and to support investment decisions; understand the relationship between infrastructure and growth including identifying any gaps between the scope of and sequencing of infrastructure and regeneration activity" the action plan says.

The document adds that, within the next 12 months, the WMCA will agree a consistent five-year housing land supply methodology across the 3 LEP geography, and adopt a consistent green belt assessment methodology across the 3 LEP geography.

Sean Coughlan, WMCA lead for housing and land and leader of Walsall Council, said: "Identifying suitable land and speeding up its development will be crucial if we are to provide enough homes and jobs for people in all the communities of the West Midlands.

"This faster supply of land is also needed to fulfil our ambition to transform the regional economy by 2030 with 20,000 more businesses than now, 500,000 new jobs and a larger housing stock of 1.9 million homes.

"We therefore have to make the very best use of the limited amount of land we have. This action plan shows how we can work together to achieve that and in doing so help meet future housing and employment needs and ultimately improve people’s quality of life."

The action plan follows a report by the West Midlands Land Commission to the WMCA board, which in February recommended the development of "non-statutory spatial framework" for the West Midlands.

The report also recommended a "strategic review" of the green belt in the WMCA area.

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