One of the biggest derelict sites in the Black Country is to be brought back to life thanks to a multi-million pound deal that will also see hundreds of new jobs for local people.
For nearly two decades, millions of drivers on the M6 motorway have stared down on 44 acres of industrial wasteland sprawled between Junctions 9 and 10.
Now, after a deal between the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Walsall Council, Homes England, the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and Henry Boot Developments, the new Phoenix 10 scheme is set to rise from the ground to create a home for 21st century industries.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, Vivienne Clements, director at Henry Boot Developments, Tom Westley, board member Black Country LEP and Cllr Mike Bird, leader of Walsall Council and WMCA portfolio holder for land and housing, take a tour of the Phoenix 10 site.
Funding from the WMCA will pay for the clean-up of the contaminated site, paving the way for the construction of new commercial premises for companies to move into, helping to tackle the region’s shortage of industrial accommodation.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “This is another great example of how the WMCA is able to use its money to regenerate former industrial land to deliver jobs, business and prosperity in the Black Country.
“At the same time we continue to make good progress on the reopening of the nearby Walsall to Wolverhampton rail line with new stations at Willenhall and Darlaston – again helping to unlock further derelict land for industry and housing.
“These exciting schemes are helping to breathe new life into this part of the Black Country while driving economic growth, giving people better opportunities for a decent home and job.”
Up until 1999, the Phoenix 10 site was partly occupied by the James Bridge Copper Works Ltd and it is heavily contaminated from previous uses which has hampered efforts to bring it back into use.
But money from the WMCA’s Black Country Land and Property Investment Fund (LPIF) will now be used to clean up the site and get it ready for development by Henry Boot Developments Ltd.
The Phoenix 10 development is expected to provide around 620,000sq ft of employment floor space across the site. Around 1,000 temporary construction jobs and more than 1,100 full-time jobs are expected to be created once completed and occupied.
Cllr Mike Bird, leader of Walsall Council and WMCA portfolio holder for land and housing, said: “The announcement today is a fantastic achievement after many years of false starts.
“What was one of the most contaminated sites in Europe will now be home to hundreds of new jobs. I’m delighted that Walsall Council has been able to deliver this hand in hand with the combined authority, Black Country LEP and the Mayor.”
The site, which is currently jointly owned by Homes England and Walsall Council, is 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 and link the area to Birmingham with a commuter time of under 20 minutes.
Tom Westley, board member Black Country LEP, said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners to enable key sites in the Black Country such as Phoenix 10 to be transformed through the Land and Property Investment Fund.
“Through this fund the Black Country LEP are able to support the development of sites such as these and, in doing so, continue to support our growing world-class manufacturing sector."
Work on cleaning up the land is expected to start in 2020.
Vivienne Clements, director at Henry Boot Developments (HBD), said: "We’re pleased to be working in partnership with Walsall Council and Homes England to bring Phoenix 10 forward - it’s fantastic to be able to play a part in returning such an important strategic site back to positive use and we look forward to getting started on site."