The man tasked with spearheading the growth of new housing and commercial development in the West Midlands has promised the region will ‘lead the world again’ when it comes to housing.
Gareth Bradford, director of housing and regeneration for the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), told over 350 delegates at No5 Barristers’ Chambers Annual Planning Seminar that the delivery of new homes will be a challenge.
“We have to make sure that the delivery of housing keeps up with the pace of growth in the West Midlands,” he said in a keynote speech at Birmingham’s ICC.
The West Midlands has been identified as a key area for investment by the Government. As a result, the West Midlands Investment Prospective spells out the goals of the region, pinpointing 500,000 new jobs by 2030, the arrival of HS2 and the awarding of the 2022 Commonwealth Games to Birmingham.
Mr Bradford’s speech, on revving up the Midlands Engine, was well received by the audience made up of private and public-sector planning professionals from across the UK including consultants, officers, lawyers, developers, surveyors and architects.
“Our region has the backing of the Government, but now we have to deliver, and the pace of that delivery is a real challenge. It is going to take a real team effort.”
He said that the growth in population would make the challenge even harder. He said it was critical that when it comes to unlocking the 215,000 new homes promised by 2031, those houses would need to cover the full range of tenures, sizes and affordability and be available to all ages.
“It’s not just about numbers, it’s about quality. This needs to be a joined-up, multi-disciplinary strategy that must be inclusive.”
He said that in order to deliver such an ambitious project different forms of funding must be attracted; CPOs and land assembly would be required but added that it was a ‘good example of how the region is trying to drive itself forward to meet those ambitious targets’.
“We need to deliver now: not just a step change in quantum, but in the pace - while ensuring quality. And if we do that, we really will lead the world again when it comes to housing.”
Jeremy Cahill QC thanked Mr Bradford on behalf of No5 and said the number and variety of questions from the audience was unprecedented.
Gareth Bradford was appointed by WMCA last December to oversee implementation of the authority's plans to increase the supply of land for housing and employment in order to help meet growth levels set out in its Strategic Economic Plan.
He joined the authority after leaving the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in London where his roles included a secondment with the No. 10 policy unit as an adviser on themes such as affordable housing, land, small businesses, regeneration, build to rent and right to buy.
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