WMCA to launch Public Land Charter to help unlock sites for redevelopment and economic growth

Midlands: A bold new approach to the way public land can be unlocked, developed, repurposed, and used for the benefit of wider society is to be launched by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

The West Midlands Public Land Charter sets out a guide for public sector organisations across the region including councils, NHS Trusts, emergency services, central government departments and other public sector organisations who want to see their land play a bigger role in driving economic growth fairly across communities, changing places for the better and creating opportunities for all.

The Charter aims to encourage private sector investment, repurpose public land for new homes and jobs, support inclusive economic growth and help the West Midlands realise its ambition of becoming a net zero region by 2041.

It is particularly aimed at public land within town and city centres and around transport hubs, supporting Levelling Up goals while delivering sustainable and inclusive urban regeneration.

The Charter, which has been drawn up by the WMCA under its Housing and Land Board with expert insight from its industry-led Public Land Taskforce and central government, puts forward a set of consistent criteria and principles to help public landowners in the development, re-use, management and disposal of their sites.

With more than 14,000 acres of public land in the West Midlands, it aims to bring forward opportunities and sites for development and regeneration in new and different ways to bring wider benefits, outcomes and positive impacts.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, will launch the Charter at the UKREiiF real estate conference in Leeds tomorrow ( Wednesday May 18).

He said: “The Public Land Charter marks a major step in our regional journey to become much more creative and coordinated in how we manage, develop, and make better use of land – in this case public land.

“We have thousands of acres of public land here in the West Midlands but much of it sits vacant or is not being used to its full potential to provide much needed space for new affordable housing and growing companies keen to employ local residents.

“In order to unlock many of these sites, we need to apply our expertise, funding, and support to take on challenges such as land decontamination, commercially uncompetitive property values, and a lack of adequate infrastructure in place to enable redevelopment.”

The WMCA’s Public Land Taskforce brings together leading property experts across the public and private sectors to explore how public land can be used to provide greater benefit to local communities and the wider region. The taskforce also supports wider collaboration and new ideas in the development and disposal of public land.

Chair of the Taskforce, Stephen Barter, who is also chair of Wilton Capital Advisers and a special adviser to Transport for London (TfL), said: “It has been a great privilege and pleasure for me to chair the West Midlands Public Land Task Force and to have supported the creation of the Public Land Charter, which sets a new standard of best practice in collaborative management and long-term value creation in regenerating public land. I am proud to endorse it and to commend it to everyone.”

Cllr Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio holder for housing and land and leader of Walsall Council, added: “The Charter will help the region fully realise the economic value of these public assets and ensure local communities and businesses directly benefit from their disposal and development.

“It aims to bring together expertise, support, funding and experience from across the region to help public sector landowners apply a consistent and joined up approach in getting the most from their assets in a way that benefits the economy and wider society.”

The launch of the Charter and the establishment of the Taskforce is part of the WMCA’s Public Land programme which was drawn up as part of the WMCA’s Covid-19 recovery blueprint – Kickstarting the West Midlands Economy: Our Investment Case to Government 

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