This week the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, presented the annual budget to the House of Commons which included plans for much needed investment in quality housing, new technologies and transport infrastructure for our region.
Ahead of this year’s budget, I am proud to have worked closely with cross party Midland’s MPs and organised a joint letter calling for further devolution of powers and new investment to support local services, transport, housing and private enterprise.
Included within the budget was a £250 million package to improve local transport, as well as new investment in quality, affordable private and local authority housing.
Your West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and I have always been clear - we must do all we can to protect our greenbelt and ensure that we prioritise future developments on brownfield sites first. However many of these sites are often poorly connected and developers are more reluctant to take on the cost of improving the quality of the land.
For that reason, as part of the original West Midlands devolution deal, the Mayor was awarded a £300 million fund from central Government to support the remediation of brownfield sites to make them fit for future house building. Combined, these funds will be utilised to improve accessibility and attract new opportunities for private investment in the Black Country in particular, where there is enough brownfield land to support the development of up to 45,000 much needed, new homes which will help to take the pressure off local green belt.
I welcome the measures the Chancellor announced as another vote of confidence from the Government in our region and its capabilities. Further, that the Prime Minister has indicated that the Government is serious about devolving further powers from Whitehall to the new West Midlands Combined Authority. Through this approach, I am certain that this budget will go a long way towards striking the right balance for a good mix of affordable private and local authority housing in our region, whilst continuing to protect our precious greenbelt for future generations to enjoy.
Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP