Towns and cities across the country will be transformed thanks to a new £1.5bn regeneration programme that will breathe fresh life into disadvantaged communities as part of the government’s Brownfield Fund.
Under plans set out in the Levelling Up White Paper, due to be published next week, derelict sites in town and city centres will be transformed creating new homes, jobs and new communities across England, with 20 areas to be prioritised.
Sheffield and Wolverhampton will be the first of 20 places that will be supported by the government to deliver ambitious regeneration projects that will boost local communities and create urban areas people will be proud to live and work in.
In Sheffield, new regeneration opportunities will capitalise on the government’s £37m Levelling Up Fund and the upcoming Integrated Rail Plan electrification and upgrades, which will cut journey times between Sheffield and London to just 87 minutes.
In Wolverhampton, local leaders are being given the tools that will catalyse the revival of the city and the wider Wolverhampton to Walsall corridor.
This will build on the government’s £20m Levelling Up Fund investment and the new Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLHUC) headquarters in the city centre.
To kickstart regeneration efforts in these regions and as part of a wider package of brownfield funding worth £120m, the area’s combined authorities will be allocated funding to fund the projects most needed to support local levelling up ambitions.
In total, £28m will be allocated to the West Midlands Combined Authority, while the South Yorkshire Combined Authority will receive £13m.
The regeneration programme will be spearheaded by the government’s housing delivery agency Homes England, which will be refocused and tasked to support the levelling up agenda.
It will use its extensive powers and expertise to help local leaders deliver the regeneration of large areas of towns and cities, as they adapt to economic trends, like the rise of online shopping.
The UK Government said they will also welcome working in continued partnership with the devolved administrations to explore how to best support places across the UK to reach their full potential.
Homes England will partner with local leaders, the private sector and community groups to turbocharge regeneration and deliver new housing, health and education and leisure facilities, roads and railways.
Local authorities will be helped to ensure that the government investment in infrastructure, worth over £96bn, is used to its full potential.
This includes £12bn in affordable housing, the £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund and a £2.6bn Shared Prosperity Fund, as well as access to DLHUC’s £1.5bn Brownfield Land Release Fund.
The 20 areas will benefit from developments combining housing, leisure and business in sustainable, walkable, new neighbourhoods.
Commenting, Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove said:
“We are on a mission to regenerate the nation, transforming derelict areas in our towns and cities into thriving places people are proud to live and work in.
“We are refocusing Homes England and empowering local leaders to support levelling up, delivering Kings Cross style transformational regeneration projects across the country, starting in Wolverhampton and Sheffield.
“This huge investment in infrastructure and regeneration will spread opportunity more evenly and help to reverse the geographical inequalities which still exist in the UK.”
Mayor of South Yorkshire, Dan Jarvis added:
“I warmly welcome this support for regeneration in Sheffield and South Yorkshire. It’s a much-needed recognition of the potential of our region.”
Giving Homes England a wider focus on regeneration is also a very positive move, as is their commitment to support local and regional leadership. We’ve always argued for a more joined up approach and lasting progress can only be driven from our communities.
“The key challenge will be ensuring that this comes with the long-term, transformative investment we need and that it connects not just housing and buildings, but skills, public services and environment.
“We’re looking forward to working with the government to realise the ambition we all share to create a better future for Sheffield and South Yorkshire.”
The government will also launch a £1.5bn Levelling Up Home Building Fund next week, providing loans to small and medium sized builders and developers to deliver 42,000 homes.
The vast majority of will go outside of London and the South East, which the government said will help to rebalance the economy and spread prosperity and opportunity more equally.
A total of £120m of funding will also be given to seven mayoral combined authorities (MCA) to transform derelict brownfield sites into vibrant places where people want to live and work, with the MCAs standing to gain 7,800 homes.
A further £30m is being awarded to the MCAs in Greater Manchester, Tees Valley and West Midlands on disused brownfield land.
Meanwhile, £8m from the Brownfield Land Release Fund is being allocated to 13 councils, which will release land for a further 898 homes.
The BLRF has so far awarded £69m to support councils to release their brownfield land for 6,856 homes by March 2024.