A few months ago (Housing 31), this site touched on the promotion of community housing and community land trusts by Pat Conaty, remembered in Birmingham for his co-founding of the Aston Reinvestment Trust and the Debt Advice Centre at the Birmingham Settlement.

At the Co-op Congress last July, he was asked to chair the Reimagine Housing session which led to further meetings.

One – due to his Commons Sense report on garden city opportunities – was with people working in the Midlands on the use of brownfield land to develop new garden cities.

An online search found that the coalition government had announced plans in 2014 to build homes for 45,000 people in garden cities to help to deal with the housing shortage.

The planned Black Country Garden City would be the biggest regeneration of brownfield sites in the country. Pockets of eco-housing, with easy access to green space, were to be built in Dudley Port, The Lye, Willenhall and Wolverhampton’s Canal Quarter. Development was to begin later that year and be completed by 2025.

In January 2017, the Post reported a ‘snub’ –  the Government had rejected an application for funding put forward by the four Black Country councils.

Two months later, however, Inside Housing announced that government funding for this development would be given, as part of a £392m investment into its Midlands Engine scheme.

The Black Country LEP’s video in March 2017 said that government and private investment has ‘levered in’ £6bn investment

European Regional Development Funds

The Express and Star (March 2018) reported that Wolverhampton council had secured a £681,000 boost from the European Regional Development Fund for the Bilston Urban Village Open Space Development Strategy. It adds that the no-longer-snubbed Garden City programme has secured £100 million to buy and clean up former industrial sites – part of £350m signed off for homes in the West Midlands by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Landscaping has already begun, with woodland management, development of ground flora, meadow creation, tree planting, hedge planting, development of the attenuation pond, possible creation of a community orchard, provision of bird and bat boxes, and actions to increase biodiversity along the edges of the canal. Read on here.

More detail is given on the website of FPCR Environment and Design Ltd – including the following sketch.

A National Brownfield Land Research Centre will be set up on the University of Wolverhampton’s Springfield campus, housing a team of specialist researchers, consultants and industry experts to advise on all aspects of brownfield development from dealing with contaminated land to repurposing buildings and sites.