Eight ‘shovel ready’ projects, ranging from the National Brownfield Land Institute to Very Light Rail developments are to benefit from £66 million of Government funding secured for the region.
The money from the Government’s Getting Building Fund is aimed at projects which can be started quickly and completed within 18 months. This creates jobs and drives investment to aid the economic recovery following the coronavirus lockdown.
One project that has been put back on track is Dudley's Very Light Rail scheme after the government answered a plea to meet a near £13 million shortfall in funding for the scheme. It will put Dudley on the national map as a pioneer of the latest technologies. Earlier phases have benefited from funding contributions by Coventry City Council - a key partner to the project - and the Black Country LEP. Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said:
"I am absolutely delighted – I asked for this to be treated as the highest of priorities by the government and they have come through for us. The Very Light Rail Test Track and National Innovation Centre is a key project for our borough.
"It will offer an innovative and exciting opportunity to provide lower cost local rail connectivity, encouraging shift from private vehicles towards public transport. It will put Dudley on the national map – and with the money in place, things will now start to move quickly to deliver it."
The West Midlands Combined Authority working with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, the Black Country LEP and the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP delivered the region’s prioritised list of projects to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which has been confirmed today.
Combined, the projects will create about 2,110 jobs, as well as support 1,419 construction jobs during development. As well as the project in Dudley, other schemes include:
- £15.1m towards the redevelopment of University Station in Edgbaston
- £1m towards WM5G’s work with small and medium sized business to develop ground breaking apps
- £10.8m to provide innovation spaces and research laboratories at the Birmingham Health Innovation Campus
- The National Brownfield Land Institute, at the University of Wolverhampton will receive £14.9m. It will research and develop new construction methods and ways of regenerating contaminated land
- £6m towards Coventry City of Culture to support various initiatives to make the most of the opportunities presented by 2021 – including the creation of a new heritage park
- Coventry’s Very Light Rail project to receive £1.8m
- £3.9m towards improved facilities at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry as part of the Commonwealth Games legacy scheme
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said:
“At a difficult time for the West Midlands’ economy brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, it is great to see the Government putting further cash on the table to help aid our recovery.
“This £66m from the Getting Building Fund will go towards exciting, shovel-ready, projects across the region that will make an immediate difference by helping to create and secure local jobs for local people.
“As well as an immediate investment to re-boot our local economy, the money secured through the fund is also an investment in our future, to secure the West Midlands’ place as a global leader in green and clean technology, life sciences, transport of the future, and construction.
“This announcement is just one part of our much bigger plans to reset, recharge and rebuild the West Midlands economy by investing in the future and retaining current jobs and creating new ones.”