The Government has been shown first-hand how the region’s nationally leading brownfield regeneration programme is bringing one of the biggest derelict sites in the West Midlands back to life.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and Cllr Mike Bird, leader of Walsall Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) portfolio holder for housing and land, joined cabinet minister Oliver Dowden to see work get underway on the Phoenix 10 development in Walsall.
The scheme will transform the former James Bridge Copper Works, which has remained a sprawling industrial wasteland for nearly two decades, into a new enterprise park, creating hundreds of jobs.
The huge 414-acre site is being delivered by developer HBD following a multi-million-pound investment by the WMCA to pay for the clean-up of the contaminated site so that construction can start on 620,000 sq. ft. high-quality commercial and industrial space. The Phoenix 10 project, which is being delivered by HBD in partnership with Walsall Council, Homes England, the Black Country LEP and the WMCA, is expected to create around 1,000 temporary construction jobs and more than 1,100 full-time jobs once completed and occupied.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “The West Midlands is rightly recognised as leading the UK on brownfield regeneration.
“Since securing the country’s single biggest housing deal from Government in 2018 we have been able to use that money to unlock neglected urban sites for more than 7,000 new homes and a million sq. ft. of commercial space, creating more than 5,000 jobs in the process. Phoenix 10 is a fantastic example of how we are breathing new life into old industrial sites and I was really pleased to show Government first-hand how the WMCA is using their money to deliver jobs and homes for local people and modern premises for our business to grow and prosper.”
Councillor Mike Bird, leader of Walsall Council and WMCA portfolio holder for land and housing, added: "After remaining derelict for so many years it's marvellous to finally see work get underway on Phoenix 10, a development that will have a significant impact for Walsall’s economic recovery from Covid. It shows what can be achieved for local people and businesses through a combination of Government funding, local knowledge and expertise and close collaboration between the public and private sectors.”
Head of region at HBD, Justin Sheldon, said: “Phoenix 10 is one of the most complex regeneration projects in the Midlands - it’s an enormous undertaking, involving the complete transformation of a site that lay disused for two decades to return it to positive use. HBD has a huge amount of experience in delivering large-scale schemes like this, creating developments that add value to the local community and attract inward investment that helps to create a thriving regional economy.
“Phoenix 10 is no exception, with the potential to create hundreds of jobs and give businesses space to grow. It’s great to see work starting on site and we look forward to working with our partners as the scheme takes shape.”
The Phoenix 10 site is seen as the largest potential employment site in the Black Country and one of the largest brownfield employment opportunities in the West Midlands.
It is located near to significant investments in new transport infrastructure including improvements to M6 Junction 10 and the re-opening of the Walsall to Wolverhampton passenger rail line which will serve the Black Country Enterprise Zone sites in Walsall while linking the area to Birmingham with a commuter time of under 20 minutes.