walsall_econonomic_infrastructure_paper by ashrafp

VIEWS: 25 PAGES: 19

									       Walsall Sector Analysis Study




Walsall Sector Analysis Study


Economic Infrastructure Paper


              October 2010
                                                               Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

Contents

1    Introduction ........................................................................................................ 3
  Introduction to the Paper .............................................................3
  Focus of the Economic Infrastructure Work: ................................3
  Structure of the Report ................................................................3
2    Economic Infrastructure Context ........................................................................ 4
  Introduction .................................................................................4
  Employment Land .......................................................................4
  Other Elements of Economic Infrastructure .................................7
3    Key Employment Locations .............................................................................. 11
  Introduction ...............................................................................11
  Key Employment Locations .......................................................12
  Key Employment Sites ..............................................................13
  Summary...................................................................................14
4    SWOC - Issues and Challenges ....................................................................... 15
5    Conclusions and Actions .................................................................................. 16
  Summary and Key Conclusions ................................................16
  Key Actions ...............................................................................16
Annex 1.................................................................................................................... 18
  New Approaches to Infrastructure Funding ...............................18




                                                                                                                                 2
                                                     Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

                                                                                                 Does Walsall have enough employment land for identified sectors, and
1         Introduction                                                                            which sites provide greatest opportunity to facilitate growth?

Introduction to the Paper                                                                        What are the key infrastructure issues and opportunities in relation to
                                                                                                  waste infrastructure, energy, flood risk and strategic transport
                                                                                                  infrastructure?
1.1       The delivery of high quality economic infrastructure is a key element of
any successful economic growth strategy. An analysis of the potential growth                     What are the priorities for the five year economic infrastructure delivery
sectors within the Walsall economy needs to take account of existing and planned                  programme, and the priority projects?
infrastructure within the Borough and the extent to which this provides the
conditions for sustainable economic growth.                                             1.6      This paper focuses on outlining the strengths and weakness of the
                                                                                        borough‟s economic infrastructure and summarising the priorities and interventions
1.2       This paper reviews how Walsall‟s key economic assets and infrastructure       for the Council and partners over next few years.
will contribute to, or constrain, economic growth. The paper considers the quality,
quantity and availability of suitable employment land, and also looks at the wider      Structure of the Report
infrastructure required to support successful sectoral growth – considering issues
such as transport, housing and waste infrastructure.                                    1.7       This paper is structured as follows:
1.3       Walsall‟s economic assets have developed over a long period of time,                   Strategic Context – a review of the implications and opportunities arising
reflecting the changing role and function of the borough. The area‟s industrial                   from the changing policy and strategic context and examination of the
legacy is reflected in much of the infrastructure, particularly the nature of the                 infrastructure issues and challenges facing the Borough.
existing employment sites and internal transport routes. This paper focuses on the
                                                       st
infrastructure required to support the growth of a 21 century economy, based                     Key Employment Locations and Key Sites Review – a review of the key
around sectors such as the low carbon economy, knowledge based industries,                        employment sites / areas within the borough and summary of their issues
advanced manufacturing and creative and cultural industries.                                      and constraints;
                                                                                                 SWOC analysis – a summary analysis of the strengths and weaknesses
Focus of the Economic Infrastructure Work:                                                        of Walsall‟s economic infrastructure.

1.4      The economic infrastructure element of the sector study comprises the                   Conclusions and Implications – a summary and conclusions of the
following elements:                                                                               review of economic infrastructure.

     1.   A review of the challenges facing Walsall to deliver the economic
          infrastructure required to support growth in key sectors;
     2.   An examination of the infrastructure requirements of the key sectors
          being examined as part of the study and an independent review of the
          deliverability and direction of key strategic sites;
     3.   A delivery planning / prioritisation exercise focusing on the interventions
          needed over the next one to five years to deliver the required economic
          infrastructure.
1.5       The approach to assessing the quality of the existing and planned
infrastructure has involved undertaking a mixture of document review and
consultations. This evidence has been used to gather information to address the
following issues:



                                                                                                                                                                3
                                                     Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

                                                                                       Document: Walsall UDP
2        Economic Infrastructure Context
                                                                                       Key Saved Policies of Relevance to Employment Development
Introduction                                                                              Strategic Policy Statement (SPS) 4.2 and Policies JP1-2: Maintaining a
                                                                                           diverse portfolio of employment land to meet the needs of both inward
2.1      With the Coalition Government now in place there is some uncertainty in           investors and existing firms;
a number of policy areas, notably with regards to strategic planning, support for
                                                                                          SPS 4.3 and Policies JP3-4: Safeguarding employment land, in particular,
remediating brownfield land and incentives and support available for housing
                                                                                           sites with good accessibility and sites likely to be attractive to the market;
development.
                                                                                          SPS 4.4 and Policies JP5-6: Identifying Core Employment Areas and Best
2.2      Within the West Midlands, the policy and strategic framework has                  Quality Sites for core employment uses only (i.e. uses falling within Use
changed significantly, with major implications for the planning and delivery of            Classes B1 b/c, B2, B);
economic infrastructure. This includes significant changes to the policy and
delivery context at the regional level, the abolition of Advantage West Midlands          SPS 4.5-4.6 and Policy JP7: Identifying uses compatible with employment
and the emergence of a Local Enterprise Partnership for the Black Country.                 uses, and which will be permitted to locate on other employment land;
                                                                                          Policy JP8: Addressing potential impact of “bad neighbour” employment uses
2.3       The evolving policy context poses a number of challenges and some
opportunities to deliver the economic infrastructure required to support the growth       SPS 5.1: Encouraging the growth and development of the retail, service and
of key sectors in Walsall. This section of the paper highlights the key implications       leisure sectors to help strengthen and diversify the Borough‟s economy and
from a range of national and local research studies, and makes conclusions with            meet local needs;
respect to the current and planned economic infrastructure in Walsall. This feeds         SPS 5.2: Sustaining and enhancing the vitality and viability of the Town,
into a more detailed analysis of sites, issues and challenges. The section focuses         District and Local Centres within the Borough;
largely on employment land but also considers other areas such as transport
                                                                                          SPS 5.4-5.8 and Policies S1-7: Applying a sequential approach towards “town
infrastructure, waste infrastructure and housing.
                                                                                           centre” uses such as retailing, offices (Use Class B1a), and leisure, supporting
Employment Land                                                                            the retention and development of such uses in the Town, District and Local
                                                                                           Centres, and development of a scale and nature appropriate to the centre;
Policy / Strategy                                                                         SPS 5.9-5.10 and policies S5, S6, WA7–13, AL4-5, BX6 – BX8, BR8-9, DA5-6
                                                                                           and WH4: Identifying opportunities for development and investment in existing
2.4       Walsall Council is currently in the process of developing its Local              centres; and
Development Framework (LDF). As part of this, the four Black Country Local
Authorities have worked together to produce a Joint Core Strategy (JCS) to set out        SPS 5.11 and Policies S8-10, WA2-6, WA14-19, AL2-3, AL6-9, BX2-5, BX9-
the vision, objectives and strategy for future development in the Black Country to         13, BH2-7, BR10-15, DA2-4, DA7-9, WH2-3, WH5-10: Encouraging functional
2026.                                                                                      transport, environmental and community safety improvements to existing
                                                                                           centres.
2.5         Currently, the main policies which the Council have regard to when
making decisions on planning applications are a series of saved policies from the      2.6      Once adopted, the Black Country Core Strategy will replace some (but
Walsall Unitary Development Plan. The LDF also includes the adopted Walsall            not all) of the UDP policies and become the key consideration to determine
statement of community Involvement, and a number of adopted Supplementary              planning applications of relevance to economic development. The draft strategy
Planning Documents which support policies within the UDP. Saved policies within        was recently subject to independent examination if the Inspector‟s Report confirms
the Walsall UDP of particular relevance to the development of employment land          its „soundness‟ it is anticipated that the four authorities will adopt it by the end of
relate to the themes of „Jobs and Prosperity‟ and „Strengthening Our Cities‟. These    March 2011.
include:
                                                                                       2.7       The key implications of the emerging Joint Core Strategy is set out in the
                                                                                       table overleaf. The focus is on locating offices within centres, with no out-of-centre
                                                                                       office proposals other than existing commitments.


                                                                                                                                                                  4
                                                   Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

Document: Black Country Joint Core Strategy                                          2.8       The key points of relevance for this economic infrastructure paper involve:

Summary of Key Points / Implications:                                                         The focus on office uses in the town centre;
                                                                                              The need to substantially increase the scale of the high quality
   A Vision comprising three major directions of change: sustainable
                                                                                               employment land to be delivered in Walsall;
    communities, environmental transformation and economic prosperity;
                                                                                              The focus on Walsall Centre and key regeneration corridors;
   Sustainability principles based on facing up to climate change, sustainable
    development, social inclusion, „brownfield first‟ and a comprehensive approach            The transfer of land from employment to housing uses; and
    to development.                                                                           The overall reduction in local quality employment land.
   Spatial objectives which aim to deliver (among other things): focused            Data / Evidence
    development of „town centre‟ uses in strategic centres, a restructured sub-
    regional economy with an employment land portfolio capable of attracting new     2.9        Currently Walsall has significantly less high quality employment land than
                                                                                                                                                1
    high technology and logistics businesses as well as local employment             areas such as Dudley, Sandwell and Wolverhampton and would need to deliver a
    opportunities, a sustainable network of community services including high        six fold increase to meet targets for 2026 as set out in the Joint Core Strategy. The
    quality lifelong learning, and a network of appropriately located waste          prioritisation of interventions to help to deliver this scale of high quality employment
    management facilities.                                                           land to meet targets is important.

   A spatial strategy based around focusing development and investment within       2.10     The focus on brownfield and urban sites increases the costs of the
    a growth network comprising four strategic centres (including Walsall Town       delivery process. Additional costs associated with land remediation are further
    Centre) and a network of sixteen regeneration corridors (five of which are       increased by the fragmentation of many sites, the road, rail and canal infrastructure
    wholly or partly in Walsall).                                                    and the location of housing in nearby areas. As an example, a strategic study to
                                                                                     consider the viability of delivering certain development sites across the Black
   Employment development also to be encouraged in a limited number of “free                                                      2
                                                                                     Country for residential and commercial uses (to inform the Joint core Strategy)
    standing” employment areas (including Aldridge).
                                                                                     found that all of the residential and commercial sites considered proved
   A focus on attracting new high technology and logistics businesses.              problematic to deliver in the current market circumstances. The report also
   The plan for at least 75,000 industrial and warehouse jobs in the Black          concluded that:
    Country in 2026.                                                                          It is likely that developers will seek to develop sites on a „design and
   A reduction of overall employment land stock in Walsall from 735 ha in 2009 to             build‟ basis in the future given the challenges and risks associated with
    658 in 2016 and 611 in 2026.                                                               delivering new sites;
   Managed release of a significant amount of local quality employment land to               The provision of larger industrial units on sites could prove challenging
    other uses (including housing) and upgrading of some local quality                         given existing site configurations and layouts;
    employment land to „high quality‟.                                                        There are potential high costs associated with the remediation and
   A significant increase in high quality employment land from 53 ha in 2009 to               demolition of existing sites as a result of the area‟s industrial legacy,
    149 ha in 2016 and 317 ha in 2026.                                                         impacting upon the viability of the site;
   A reduction in low quality employment land from 682 ha in 2009 to 519 ha in               Estimated site remediation costs for the sample sites ranged from
    2016 and 294 ha in 2026.                                                                   £20,000 to £1.27m for proposed residential sites and £20,000 to
                                                                                               £470,000 for the commercial development sites;
   Priority market sectors for development including diversified manufacturing,
    including high value added, advanced engineering, business, financial and
    customer services and green industries.
                                                                                     1
                                                                                       Source: Black Country Joint Core Strategy Section 4: the Economy, Employment and
                                                                                     Centres
                                                                                     2
                                                                                       Black Country Joint Core Strategy Sample Sites Viability Study, October 2009, Mott
                                                                                     Macdonald and GVA Grimley Ltd


                                                                                                                                                                   5
                                                       Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

2.11     The recently published Walsall Employment Land review provides a more            2.16      The ability of the public sector to pump prime investment or invest
localised examination of the employment land which should be provided in the LDF          substantially in up front infrastructure costs to support the development of high
based on an analysis of demand and supply in the plan period to 2026. It provides         quality sites will be much more limited in future years. There will be a clear need to
a more detailed analysis of how policies and targets set out within the JCS should        use public sector land assets more creatively in an attempt to raise finance and
be delivered in practice through site allocations and development control policies.       lever private sector investment, as well as pursuing what funding opportunities
                                                                                          remain such as the Regional Growth Fund Initiative. The latter requires a focus on
2.12      The review highlights the implications of a decline in the area‟s traditional   developing major, strategic priorities which have the potential to stimulate the
industries leading to severe population decline, economic under performance,              creation of new, private sector jobs.
social disadvantage and environmental deterioration. Key conclusions include:
                                                                                          2.17      The funds available through the Regional Growth Fund are limited, and
         There is potential demand from new, high-value occupiers to locate in           making limited public sector support go further will be crucial. The final section of
          Walsall, specifically from the logistics sector and for the most accessible     this report looks at some initiative funding mechanism, although the majority
          sites close to the M6;                                                          transfer a substantial part of the risk to local public sector partners.
         At the moment however there is very little high-quality floorspace either
          on the market or in the pipeline to meet this demand;                           Employment Land – Key issues
         There is little prospect of new industrial development to fill this gap – the
                                                                                             Walsall Council, as expressed through the UDP and emerging Joint Core
          development of many sites is not commercially viable;
                                                                                              Strategy, has a policy position which aims to steer office development towards
         The loss of employment land should be carefully controlled and                      the town centre
          managed.
                                                                                             Planning policy targets to significantly increase the scale of quality
2.13     The need to deliver a step change in the quality of employment areas                 employment land delivered in Walsall, at key regeneration corridors – this
combined with a lack of recent development activity, lack of developable land and             needs to be full costed to assess the feasibility of the targets in light of market
limited current quality space means that much of the new quality land will need to            conditions and limited public sector support.
come from either upgraded sites or intervention from the public sector – a key               There are significant issues relating to access, contamination and ownership
challenge at a time of scarce resources. The Black Country land use plans are                 in relation to a number of Walsall‟s key potential sites – whilst intervention may
fundamental to the transformation of the local economy. However it is very difficult          be required on a number of these, consideration needs to be given to not
to see how the scale of resources can be made available in the current economic               prioritising sites where these issues are either too expensive or complex. The
and funding to meet the aspirational targets.                                                 market should be able, in time, to deliver the smaller, less expensive and less
Funding / Role of the Public Sector                                                           contaminated sites.

2.14       The Local Investment Plan developed for Walsall covers the period 2010-           There has been a lack of recent developer activity - new approaches are need
2014 and is to be used to ensure that any future investment by the Homes and                  to secure significant private sector investment to improve the quality of the
Communities Agency in Walsall is directed into priority areas. The LIP focuses on             land supply.
six priority areas – Brownhills, Moxley, Goscote, Darlaston, Walsall Town Centre             There are some major strategic opportunities e.g. Darlaston and Gigaport –
and Willenhall – many of which are the focus of residential led regeneration plans.           there is a need to review the steps needed to ensure that the offer at these
In terms of employment led development, there is a major focus on delivering the              (and other) locations allow Walsall to compete for new and re-investment.
regeneration strategy for the Darlaston SDA and town centre regeneration.                    The increasing lack of public sector funding to deliver the infrastructure
2.15     The reduction to the budgets of Advantage West Midlands, and to a                    required to support new development - new approaches are needed to
lesser extent the HCA, will have a major impact on the availability of public sector          advance the land supply challenges in Walsall, given the shortage of public
funding to address issues such as contamination, ownership and access in relation             sector finance for regeneration priorities, both for economic infrastructure and
to some of Walsall‟s major employment sites. This is a major issue for Walsall                housing
given the complexity of some of the Borough‟s major employment sites / areas,
and the lack of recent private sector led development activity.


                                                                                                                                                                    6
                                                      Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

                                                                                                  Greenstar (now Veolia) MRF, Aldridge (capacity around 250,000 TPA) –
Other Elements of Economic Infrastructure                                                          implemented 2008/09.

Waste Infrastructure                                                                     2.22    The key priorities for Walsall arising from consultation and a Waste
                                                                                         Planning Study to feed into the Black Country Core Strategy include:
2.18      Waste planning policy in the UK reflects the European Waste Framework
Directive which is based around a waste hierarchy concept which ranks methods                     The additional requirements of a minimum of 4ha land required to meet
of managing waste in order of preference. At the top of the hierarchy is waste                     the requirements for commercial waste recycling, recovery and transfer
prevention, followed by re-use, recycling and composting and energy recovery.                      infrastructure in Walsall to meet Joint Core Strategy requirements;
The disposal of waste to landfill is at the bottom of the hierarchy and is seen as the            The need to address a variety of gaps in waste infrastructure provision
last resort for waste residues which cannot be managed in any other way.                           for commercial and industrial waste, including food waste and
                                                                                                   contaminated soil;
2.19       Targets for reducing he amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to
landfill (the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme) and fiscal measures such as the                  Addressing issues relating to fly tipping;
Landfill Tax have already been effective in reducing reliance on landfill and                     Maximising the potential of renewable energy from waste;
encouraging the development of recycling and recovery infrastructure nationally.                  Meeting the needs of existing SMEs and new businesses, particularly
However, recent changes to the Waste Framework Directive will result in a new                      those to be located in new development areas and in sectors with waste
statutory duty to apply the waste hierarchy through the planning system, and will                  that is not attractive to existing commercial operators.
introduce new targets for re-use and recycling of household waste and diversion of
construction and demolition waste, In future therefore, businesses are likely to be      2.23      There is also a need to improve the knowledge base relating to the waste
expected to demonstrate that they are managing their waste in accordance with            infrastructure needs of the economy and existing provision, and the ability of the
the hierarchy. These changes will be reflected in forthcoming waste regulations          public sector to influence the delivery of future waste facilities in the Borough. This
and a review of the national waste strategy and national planning policy guidance        may require closer engagement with operators regarding their potential scope to
is also now underway.                                                                    increase capacity and deal with the range of wastes which will need to be
                                                                                         managed in the future.
2.20    Different employment sectors (and sub-sectors) produce different types
and quantities of waste and therefore have very different waste management               2.24      locally with respect to areas such as Aldridge (where quarries and
requirements. The consideration of waste requirements will therefore need to form        brickworks With regards to the delivery of future waste infrastructure facilities in the
part of an analysis of the appropriateness of economic infrastructure in the             Borough, an appraisal of a potential Resource Recovery Park in Darlaston was
Borough to the needs of the future economy.                                              undertaken recently. This found that Darlaston was well suited to redevelopment
                                                                                         and housing waste management facilities, but that district heat and power may be
2.21      Over recent years there have been a steady number of new waste                 more difficult due to the dispersed nature of the area. The report recommended
management proposals coming forward and a number of planning permissions                 that any future investment should avoid metal processing and waste paper due to
have been granted. This is evidenced by Walsall‟s Annual Monitoring Reports of           existing companies located in the area, and waste to energy facilities due to the
2005-2009 which show that planning applications for new commercial waste                 financial costs involved.
infrastructure have been coming forward in Walsall on a regular basis since
2004/05, A number of significant commercial waste infrastructure proposals have          2.25      Finally, the minerals sector in Walsall is an important sector not
been implemented over recent years, including:                                           necessarily in overall employment terms but in terms of its importance to the
                                                                                         national economy and more are located). There is the potential for some prior
         Foreman Recyling MRF and Transfer Station, Moxley (capacity up to              extraction of minerals in advance of redevelopment within certain areas of the
          62,400 TPA) – implemented 2007/08                                              Borough. This could fund some of the extensive remediation costs associated with
         Credential Tyre Shredding Facility, Moxley (capacity up to 50,000 TPA) –       taking forward development sites, although this is only likely to be feasible in a very
          implemented 2007/08                                                            limited number of cases.
         Bace Groundworks CD&EW Recycling Facility, Aldridge (capacity up to            2.26   An assessment of the impact of sectoral change within the Walsall
          74,290 TPA) – implemented 2007/08; and                                         economy on waste issues is an important consideration given that the priority


                                                                                                                                                                    7
                                                     Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

should be to make Walsall self-sufficient in managing its waste, by encouraging                  The business case submitted to DfT relating to improving access to
facilities which can manage the types of waste produced by local businesses.                      Darlaston in order to unlock key development sites;
Transport and Connectivity                                                                       The longer term potential to develop a highways maintenance PFI
                                                                                                  contract to deliver major highways improvements, following the route
2.27      Walsall has two major locational advantages – its proximity to                          taken by other areas, notably Birmingham.
Birmingham and its location at the heart of the UK‟s road and rail network. The M6
is a major feature of the area and transport and travel provide many jobs both          2.32     Funding opportunities for the delivery of major transport infrastructure
directly and indirectly within the local economy. The area is also well linked to the   under the current economic climate remain uncertain. Clarity will be provided
North, Wales and the South West.                                                        following the Spending Review in the Autumn.

2.28     The area displays a high proportion of public transport use, including         2.33      Improving access to Darlaston and highways improvements are the key
some of the UK‟s most profitable and highest patronage bus routes. Rail links are       transport investments needed to improve the quality of employment sites and
reasonably good between Walsall and Birmingham and lots of key arterial routes          attract new investment and employment to Walsall.
have already been improved such as the A34 south linking Walsall to Sandwell            Housing
and Birmingham and the M6 itself in parts.
                                                                                        2.34     In terms of supporting an economic growth strategy for the Borough, the
2.29     The area does however face a number of issues from a connectivity              key aspects of importance from an economic point of view are whether the
perspective, both strategically and at a local level. These include                     borough will deliver the scale and type of homes required to support economic
         Congestion, particularly at / between junction 9 and 10 of the M6;            growth, retain and attract a more skilled labour pool and potential entrepreneurs
                                                                                        and deliver adequate family housing.
         The need to upgrade much of the Borough‟s internal transport
          infrastructure such as weak bridges and congested routes;                     2.35       There are clear east/west differences with respect to the type and quality
         Poor direct rail links northwards, for example to Wolverhampton, Stafford     of housing in Walsall. The Borough contains some attractive residential locations
          and beyond;                                                                   close to extensive green spaces, mainly to the east. The west of the Borough is
                                                                                        more densely populated with older housing stock and higher concentrations of
         Localised access and connection issues, particularly in relation to major     deprivation linked to the area‟s industrial past. Overall the Borough has below
          development sites / areas such as Darlaston.                                  average house prices. There is a major affordable housing need to be met but also
2.30     These issues currently represent a constraint to the delivery of               a need to deliver more aspirational, open market housing. Strategic housing
sustainable economic growth within Walsall, particularly localised access issues.       priorities for the Council are linked to the need to raise income and employment
These have meant that despite being located at the heart of the UK‟s road and rail      levels and reduce deprivation, and include the need to:
network, Walsall has not been able to offer the range of quality employment sites                Increase housing choice and opportunity;
located adjacent or with good access to the M6 when compared with neighbouring
areas.                                                                                           Improve the standard and sustainability of existing and future homes;
                                                                                                 Address diverse needs and promote independent living.
2.31     A series of proposals / opportunities exist to further improve the
connectivity within Walsall and to areas such as Birmingham, addressing some of         2.36      A major transfer in 2005 of affordable housing stock to the Walsall
the issues set out above. These include:                                                Housing Group, a variety of housing led regeneration plans in priority areas
                                                                                        (particularly areas of pre-1919 stock) and plans for new build on former sites that
         The potential to re-install the Walsall to Wolverhampton rail link;           have already been cleared mean that a large proportion of the housing stock has
         The potential to re-open the Stourbridge to Walsall line;                     been renewed or is planned for renewal over the coming years. However there
         The delivery of High Speed 2 to Birmingham which would have                   remain significant housing challenges in many parts of the Borough, particularly to
          implications for Walsall in terms of enabling an increased frequency of       the west.
          services from Walsall to Birmingham;                                          2.37      A Walsall Housing Needs and Demand Study was produced in 2007,
                                                                                        highlighting the need to provide an additional 305 affordable housing dwellings


                                                                                                                                                                 8
                                                       Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

over five years to meet all housing needs. It highlighted that the greatest demand        Supplementary Planning Document guides development in the area and funding
was for social rented accommodation, with less significant demand for owner-              has been secured via the HCA‟s Kickstart Programme. The southern phase of the
occupied property and a surplus of private rented dwellings. A more recent                scheme is being progressed although the original Urban Splash proposals for the
Strategic Housing Market Assessment provided even greater targets for affordable          northern element of the site are still on hold. There are a series of other smaller
housing. Whichever figures are used it is clear that there is a clear need to deliver     proposals elsewhere in the town, although the town centre has not yet fully
additional affordable housing, complemented by an increase in aspirational private        developed its role as a residential location.
housing.
                                                                                          2.43      The current Government has moved away from a top down approach to
2.38     A private sector house condition survey found that across all areas, nearly      setting housing targets, with a greater freedom for local areas to plan to meet the
one quarter of homes fail to meet the requirements of the Decent Homes Standard           needs of their local communities. There is however a major challenge, not unique
and the private rented stock was in relatively poor condition. A total investment of      to Walsall, under the current climate to deliver the amount of quality, modern and
over £115m would be required to improve non-Decent housing. The poor housing              fit for purpose new housing to attract and retain skilled individuals as well as
areas are focused on Palfrey, Peck, St Matthews, Birchills Leamore and Darlaston.         contributing to sustainable communities and place making objectives. Also, a
                                                                                          review of the regeneration plans for Walsall and its SRF areas reveal that many of
2.39       In terms of the scale of new housing:                                          these are housing led.
          Over the period from 1991, the Borough exceeded UDP planned housing            2.44       There are a number of key challenges with regard to new housing:
           targets of 422 per annum for 1991-2011;
          The scale of new housing has reduced over recent years – a                               Investment support for housing development and new buyers – The
           combination of major demolitions and the economic downturn;                               current financial situation means that many home owners or prospective
                                                                                                     home owners cannot get mortgages and there is a lack of
          In both 2007-08 and 2008-09, net completions were -151 and -211                           investment/financial models for both developers and home owners. The
           respectively (due to high numbers of demolitions) against an RSS target                   lack of finance is exacerbated by uncertainties of employment and
           of 500 per annum 2007-11 and 825 in 2011-2021.                                            stagnant/falling house prices.
2.40      The Walsall Strategic Housing Land Availability Study seeks to identify                   The collapse of the apartment market and mixed use developments
sufficient „deliverable‟ sites to meet housing targets. In addition to existing housing              – This has been blighted by over-pricing and poor standards (space and
commitments, the sites identified to accommodate this are largely located within                     finish) as well as cultural issues amongst the UK population which
the more urbanised, western half of the Borough. The long term supply of sites is                    continue to favour houses (more expensive to build and requiring more
relatively tight and a number of unidentified small sites and development in broad                   land).
location sites would be required to meet targets to 2026.                                           Difficulties with re-establishing momentum in regeneration areas –
2.41     Walsall has benefitted from being designated within the Black Country                       In many regeneration areas there are well developed, locally supported
Housing Growth Point as part of the former Government‟s drive to increase and                        plans and aspirations in place to deliver neighbourhood renewal, a
accelerate the future supply of new housing. The Black Country Core Strategy also                    significant component of which is housing led. Despite some successes
proposes the redevelopment of a large amount of surplus employment land to                           in attracting the private sector to work with the public sector in such
housing. The funding received has been relatively limited and has been prioritised                   areas, demand still remains weak here and many sites are contaminated
to progress the development of the town centre as a residential location alongside                   and expensive to develop and costly green infrastructure needs to be
other funding sources such as Kickstart. There is a proposal to introduce a new                      delivered. This has lead to delays or stalled plans.
incentive based on the payment of additional Council tax for six to eight years after               Improving access to affordable homes – The issue of affordability has
a house/home has been completed, and this may replace other support.                                 been rising in importance over the past decade, particularly as a result of
                                                                                                     rising house prices. Despite the recent downturn in the market, the
2.42     Walsall Town Centre has only recently become the focus for new housing
                                                                                                     issues are likely to persist and the need to substantially increase the
development. The Walsall Waterfront scheme is a major housing led mixed use
                                                                                                     supply of affordable housing, either through social house building,
proposal to the west of the town centre. The project was highlighted within the RES
                                                                                                     availability of intermediate housing products or promotion of the private
as “a vibrant mixed use development with the potential to create 965 new jobs”. A
                                                                                                     rented sector remains.


                                                                                                                                                                    9
                                                     Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

Other Elements of Economic Infrastructure – Key Issues
   There is a need to address a variety of gaps in waste infrastructure provision
    both to meet the needs of existing SMEs and new businesses, particularly in
    development areas.
   There is a need to explore the potential for low-carbon energy generation in
    Walsall, including the production of renewable energy from waste, and the
    potential for the supply of renewable energy to local businesses through
    district heating systems.
   The area‟s strategic location is a major advantage, and there are a number of
    pipeline transport infrastructure projects but major issues exist relating to
    localised access and connections which affect the attractiveness of many
    major employment sites / areas.
   Improving the quality of employment land and ensuring the success of
    Darlaston and Gigaport will require significant public sector resources to
    address land and infrastructure constraints.
   There remains a key challenge to deliver the scale and type of homes required
    to support economic growth, retain and attract a more skilled labour pool and
    potential entrepreneurs and deliver adequate family housing.
   New housing development of contaminated sites and less popular locations in
    very unlikely in the current climate and Walsall is likely to fall behind in
    providing the scale of new housing to meet demand.
   Proposed new incentives to pay additional Council Tax over six to eight years
    provides future funds, rather than current support. Borrowing against these
    new rewards is possible, but there is a risk that the scale of housing envisaged
    may be affected by other factors.




                                                                                                                     10
                                                      Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

3        Key Employment Locations                                                        Location of Employment                Land     Review    Sites   and
                                                                                         Recommendations
Introduction
                                                                                         (Source: Walsall Employment Land Review November 2010)
3.1      This section provides an overview of the key current and future
employment areas within Walsall, drawing on information set out within the policy
and evidence base summarised in the previous chapter – notably the emerging
Walsall employment land review.
3.2       In addition to the town centre which is the focus for the main office and
retail developments in Walsall, the map opposite demonstrates that the majority of
current and potential high quality employment sites are located to the West of the
Borough. This reflects the built up and industrial nature of this part of Walsall as
apposed to much of the east of the Borough which is constrained in development
terms by Green Belt land. The east does however contain some of the borough‟s
larger sites, notably to the north of Aldridge and on the outskirts of Brownhills.
3.3     Walsall‟s two biggest and highest profile schemes over recent years have
comprised:
         The Darlaston Strategic Development Area – Walsall‟s highest profile
          and largest strategic development area, a large industrial / former
          industrial area either side of the M6. Home to a mix of recycling
          businesses, low value industry and derelict land. Significant constraints
          to development including poor internal access, ownership issues and
          land contamination.
         Gigaport – Plans for a high profile new business district / office corridor
          located in the north of the town centre. This has ambitions to create over
          3,000 jobs, with incubator units and next generation broadband.
          Development has progressed but has been public sector / quasi public
          sector led focusing on a new College, location for Walsall Housing Group
          and new police station. There are difficulties in stimulating private sector
          development.
3.4       A significant amount of public sector time and funding has been invested
in the planning and preparation of these two sites over recent years. Whilst this
has progressed the development process in these two areas, significant issues
remain unresolved before the sites can deliver the scale of employment desired by
local partners.
3.5      This section of the report summarises the issues and challenges
associated with these two key sites and other sites across the Borough.




                                                                                                                                                    11
                                                               Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

                                                                                                                 the estate to improve quality and appeal.
Key Employment Locations                                                                                        Has seen some renewal overtime but access is poor.

3.6    The table below provides a summary of the key existing / planned                          Walsall        Concentrations of industrial space close to town centre.
                                                                                                 Central        Much is poor, declining or earmarked for development.
employment areas within the Borough and the issues faced.
                                                                                                                A range of occupiers including trade counter and quasi-retail.
Employment Locations in Walsall                                                                                 Scope to redevelop into a higher quality environment.
Area                                    Overview / Comment                                                      Lack of major town centre office offer.
                                                                                                                Walsall Waterfront major mixed use development project.
Brownhills      Previous mining area, now home to manufacturing and distribution
                 employment.                                                                                    Gigaport plans for a high quality, sustainable office corridor in the centre of
                                                                                                                 Walsall – ownership issues and initial development focused on public
                Located in one of Walsall‟s most accessible locations.                                          sector / quasi public sector development, not private investment.
                Includes 3 main employment areas scattered around the town -
                 Newtown, Coppice Side and Maybrook / Lindon Road.                               Pleck          Series of industrial areas, with the best located to the South.
                Generally one of the borough‟s better employment areas.                                        Walsall Enterprise     Park    -   a   high   quality,   industrial   warehouse
                                                                                                                 development.
Aldridge        Area subject to large amount of recent residential development.                                Also home to a new Network Rail training facility.
                Distinct employment / industrial area to the north / west – largest in the                     Access issues.
                 borough when considered as a whole.
                Access poor but Middlemore industrial estate quite well occupied.               Darlaston      Important site given strategic status, size and potential.
                Reasonably high quality and recent development activity.                                       Potential for high tech manufacturing and (high quality) logistics.
                Legacy of clay mining / tipping are constraints to redevelopment.                              But currently largely unattractive and development unviable – major road
                                                                                                                 network, contamination issues.
Bloxwich        Includes Leamore Business Park.
                                                                                                 North          Complicated employment area – some of the Borough‟s best employment
                Low density employment and relatively high vacancy rates although
                                                                                                 Walsall         areas close to some of its most constrained sites.
                 important at serving the local market.
                                                                                                                Poorer and more constrained sites closer to the town centre.
                Poor accessibility and some distance from the M6.
                                                                                                                Some opportunities have been lost to housing.
                Scope to increase density of development but poor access so unlikely to
                 be attractive for high quality development.                                                    Stockton Close local quality industrial area which includes a range of
                                                                                                                 occupiers.
Willenhall      One of Walsall‟s main industrial locations.                                                    Newfield Close industrial area – low density and much higher vacancy, but
-               Home to a number of key employers.                                                              home to TK Maxx, attracted by availability of workers.
Ashmore
                Access not particularly good – isolated from main road network.
Lake                                                                                             South          Includes sites to the south and west of the town centre up to the M6.
                Low to medium quality but quite high occupancy rates.                           Walsall        Includes employment areas at Bescot, Pleck, Tempus 10, Reedswood
Willenhall      Concentration of aged industrial space.                                                         Way, the former IMI site and smaller sites.
Central         Access is poor.                                                                                Includes Tempus 10 site – one of the select few high quality development
                                                                                                                 sites in Walsall. Marketed as high quality B1 office space. Probably the
                Low density employers.                                                                          best sites Walsall has to offer to cater for sub regional or regional
                Potential release for housing.                                                                  occupiers but lack of take up due to market conditions.
Willenhall      Rapid access to the Black Country Route, M6 and labour pool.                                   Northern Onyx part of the site to be developed (9.,500 sq m) and southern
-                                                                                                                site (9,500 sq m) has not yet been developed for employment.
                Became borough‟s premier industrial location with some major occupiers.
Longacre                                                                                                        Reedswood Way site is similar but has not been developed.
                Piecemeal development so an opportunity to reconfigure and redevelop



                                                                                                                                                                                       12
                                                                 Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

Key Employment Sites                                                                               Newfield     Sites,       Maxx distribution depot.
                                                                                                   50.5ha                   Some of the estate is old but no major physical constraints to
                                                                                                                             redevelopment or renewal.
3.7      The table below provides a more detailed summary of the issues and
constraints associated with some of the borough‟s largest sites (over 20ha),                       Pleck                    Remains a predominantly industrial and commercial location.
drawing on the employment land review work and other research.                                     Pleck Road and           Includes Walsall Enterprise Park – modern industrial / warehousing
                                                                                                   the    Railway,           developed by St Modwen – only few vacant units and sites.
Key Employment Sites from Draft Employment Land Review – Above 15ha                                46.7ha                   Also a new network rail training facility.
Area/Site/Size                           Comment / Issues / Constraints                                                     Premier Business site also there although poorer quality.
Brownhills               Many industrial units in poor condition, poor internal environment.                               Town Wharf business park also poorer quality.
Newtown,                 Vacancy and dereliction a problem but largely unconstrained.                                      Some other high quality units mixed with poorer industrial stock.
20.3ha                   Likely candidate site for higher quality occupiers.                      Willenhall               Employment area remains isolated from the main road network.
                         But land built up so overall new development may be difficult.           Ashmore Lake             The core is well occupied industrial area and a mix of properties.
                         Some contamination on the vacant land to the east.                       Sites, 42.1ha            Includes a cluster of scrap yards / waste transfer facilities;
Brownhills               Good internal access and servicing.                                                               Complicated planning history – at one stage ideas to release for
                                                                                                                             residential development, but this was opposed.
Coppice      Side,       Industrial/manufacturing warehouses plus two development sites.
22.4ha                                                                                                                      Mixed potential to retain as local quality or release.
                         One of the area‟s better employment sites.
                         Unlikely to be high quality though due to slightly poorer access.        Willenhall               Key occupier is AF Blakemore – retail distributor.
                                                                                                   Longacre,                Should be considered a high quality site.
Aldridge                 Number of older, established estates together with undeveloped land.     21.1ha
                                                                                                                            Some access issues but this does not constrain the site as there has
Aldridge     North,      Mineral industry still active in this area.                                                        been some renewal over recent years.
93 ha                    Legacy of clay mining / uncontrolled tipping – ground conditions poor.
                                                                                                   Willenhall               Natural extension to Darlaston Area.
                         Some investment and renewal of stock to the South West.
                                                                                                   South Willenhall         But area does not need major access and highways improvements.
                         Includes a number of significant waste management facilities.            sites                    Includes one of the Borough‟s high quality new warehouse /
                         Appears to be market demand for this location.                           31ha                      distribution units (Poundland and formerly City Link).
Aldridge                 Area of new industrial and warehouse units.                                                       More fragmented area to the north with ownership issues.
Wharf Approach,          One of the Borough‟s largest parcels of high quality development.        Darlaston                The Borough‟s highest profile regeneration area – large former
20.2ha                                                                                                                       industrial area either side of the M6;
                                                                                                   SDA
Aldridge                 Mix of new and older industrial / warehousing units.                                              Mass of employment space, includes waste management cluster.
Middlemore and           Includes a very significant waste management facility.                                            Poor ground conditions and expensive to remediate.
Westgate,                Expected that the area will improve as the wider area is regenerated.                             Motorway access not great despite close proximity and internal
69.7ha                                                                                                                       access poor. Sub standard roads, narrow junctions and bridges.
                         Area generally a coherent employment area.
                         Potential for some new development – possibly small office units.                                 Ownership issues and number of current occupiers.
                                                                                                                            Current occupiers include some industrial and quite major recycling
Bloxwich                 Occupied by a range of uses inc recycling, new industry and small                                  occupiers unlikely to be accommodated elsewhere in the Borough.
Leamore                   scale distribution.
                                                                                                                            IMI site is the largest in Darlaston at 16.1 ha – also the most
Business     Park,       No direct access to the Motorway – serves local market not major                                   problematic with major contamination and access issues. AWM
50ha                      distribution firms like Willenhall or Darlaston.                                                   purchased this but short term focus on managing the site.
North Walsall            Includes two of the Borough‟s largest office developments and TK                                  Future of the site largely tied to public funding.



                                                                                                                                                                                         13
                                                      Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

Summary

3.8     The majority of Walsall‟s employment stock tends to be located to the
South and West of the Borough, reflecting where industry developed and the
Green Belt which constrains the development potential of the east of the Borough.
Despite this, some of the higher quality larger sites with greatest potential and
market demand tend to be located around Aldridge in particular and Brownhills –
away from the critical mass of land.
3.9       Darlaston is the Borough‟s highest profile regeneration opportunity,
however its constraints to development typify a number of the current and planned
future sites across the Borough, namely:
        Ownership issues;
        High levels of contamination;
        Poor internal access;
        Poor access to the motorway network despite close proximity; and
        Lack of demand from occupiers.
3.10      These factors combine to make the site unattractive to the private sector,
in its current state and its delivery faces major question marks without significant
public sector funding. Indeed, the majority of the land supply within the Borough is
unlikely to be developed by the market under current conditions at a time of scarce
public sector resources.
3.11      The town centre has also failed to develop as a quality business location.
The edge of the town is home to a number of relatively low value uses and the
major development planned for the town centre – Gigaport has managed to attract
public sector or quasi public sector uses, and further investment will be required to
attract private sector employers.
3.12     The business parks which exist across the Borough tend to be industrial /
manufacturing sites, often of poor quality, and there is a lack of flexible, smaller
enterprise or incubation space which is the area in which there appears to be most
demand.
3.13      There are major gaps in provision with regard to some of the key sectors
which will be a constrain to future employment growth. Given the scale of the
challenge in providing modern business infrastructure in Walsall new solutions are
required to ensure the scale of funding, from either the public or the private sector,
is available to take forward the major projects.




                                                                                                                      14
                                                            Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

4         SWOC - Issues and Challenges                                                            Walsall’s Economic Infrastructure – Opportunities and Challenges
4.1      In light of the evidence set out in the previous sections, the table below               Opportunities
sets out the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and challenges faced by                         Significant internal demand from local companies seeking/needing to move to larger
Walsall in terms of the economic infrastructure to support sectoral development.                      premises.
                                                                                                     Increased regional and national demand for low cost office space, proving Walsall with
Walsall’s Economic Infrastructure – Strengths and Weaknesses                                          the potential to provide a complementary office offer, not competing with Birmingham city
                                                                                                      centre, for price conscious West Midlands businesses.
Strengths
                                                                                                     Increased demand for logistics and distribution companies requiring central locations and
   An excellent strategic location - close to the city of Birmingham and national rail / road        access to the motorway network.
    network.
                                                                                                     Growing population and changing demographics, such as people living on their own,
   A good quality housing offer to the east of the Borough and housing led regeneration              increasing demand for housing.
    schemes to the west.
                                                                                                     The proposed now housing bonus.
   A number of recent or planned transport infrastructure improvements.
                                                                                                     The potential to keep future Council Tax and Business Rates to allow funds to be
   A series of distinctive towns and communities, each with a Strategic Regeneration                 borrowed to provide critical infrastructure.
    Framework in place to guide future investment.
                                                                                                     Rail connection to Birmingham allowing residents to access jobs in a large service sector
   Strategic sites Gigaport and Darlaston which have the potential (in theory) to improve the        labour market.
    quality of employment land available.
                                                                                                     Digital connectivity‟s increasing the facility for remote and distance working, including
   Some recent investments in the town centre including public realm projects, the art gallery       service centres for a broad range of sectors.
    and housing led schemes.
 The presence of a new College and the University of Wolverhampton.
                                                                                                  Challenges
                                                                                                     Reduced public sector funding for site remediation and infrastructure costs in areas of
Weaknesses                                                                                            market failure.
   Poor land supply not only for potential growth sectors but in the Borough‟s core                 Impact of the recession on local companies ability/willingness to invest in new premises
    production and distribution sectors making the area uncompetitive.                                and facilities.
   Complicated localised transport network and access limiting site access to the motorway          Global trends in manufacturing further eroding the industrial base.
    (despite close proximity).                                                                       Countering the attractiveness of other commercial and retail centres and overcoming
   Major constraints to development in relation to a number of key sites, particularly with          perceptions of Walsall, particularly the town centre.
    respect to access, contamination, ownership and Green Belt to the east.                          To improve the town centre offer, including the environment and amenities, alongside
   The under-performance of the town centre, notably a poor town centre office offer and             increasing the quality and quantity of the office accommodation.
    loss of retail expenditure to other areas. Walsall‟s position in the hierarchy of West           Reduced investment finance available to developers and higher deposit requirements for
    Midlands towns / cities behind Wolverhampton and Birmingham means that significant                first time buyers undermining local housing markets.
    expenditure leaks away and the town centre‟s catchment area is constrained.
                                                                                                   Collapse of the apartment market undermining mixed used developments.
   The lack of modern business accommodation offer for both industrial and service based
    companies in accessible locations including the absence of a stellar office offer or major     To ensure that the performance of the town centre does not decline further as a result of
    new industrial park to offer to potential investors.                                              out of centre retail / leisure developments adversely affecting the town and also removing
                                                                                                      potential industrial employment land.
   Lack of incubation / enterprise / managed workspace for small or start up firms,
    particularly in creative, cultural and digital sectors.
   Lack of recent development activity both commercial and housing and minimal to no
    speculative development.




                                                                                                                                                                                  15
                                                       Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

                                                                                          employment land will not be met. It is also important to ensure that the focus on
5        Conclusions and Actions                                                          release of low quality employment land does not come at the expense of existing
                                                                                          businesses – in many ways the majority of the current employment land serves the
Summary and Key Conclusions                                                               existing employment base in the town fairly adequately, particularly given its
                                                                                          cheapness and availability (this is supported by the findings of the business
5.1       The poor performance of the Walsall economy over recent years is partly         survey). Given the current economic climate and Walsall‟s lack of a track record
reflected in and partly accounted for by the poor quality of employment land within       for inward investment, supporting the existing base and stabilising the economy is
the Borough and the lack of recent development activity.                                  likely to be a key priority over the coming years.
5.2       The legacy of industrial decline and key constraints to new development         5.5      Over recent years, there has been a major focus on planning and
relating to access, ownership, land remediation and the poor performance of the           investing in major strategic sites such as Darlaston and Gigaport. These two areas
town centre have contributed to a poor quality land supply. The lack of a high            appear to provide the greatest opportunity to stabilise the industrial sectors
quality business or technology park, large sites with good access to the Motorway         (Darlaston) and grow parts of the service sector economy (Gigaport). However
and quality incubation space in the town centre has weakened Walsall‟s position           both of these areas have significant constraints linked to land contamination,
with regards to attracting potential inward investors and start up businesses. It also    ownership and access and require significant sums of public sector funding. There
means that some of the key sectors which form the focus for the sectoral analysis         appears little prospect the scale of public sector funding to take forward Darlaston
face issues in relation to their employment land, notably:                                and Gigaport will be available.
         For advanced and higher value manufacturing, there is a lack of bespoke         5.6       Linked to the challenges of progressing Gigaport and Darlaston, Walsall
          and high quality landscaped industrial estates with good access;                lacks sufficient opportunities for market led development to take advantage of
                                                                                          some of the growth opportunities around key sectors such as logistics. With a
         There is a need and demand for relocation within the Borough, but a lack        greater need for development requiring no or minimal public sector support, this is
          of suitable sites in some of the key locations;                                 major weakness and will seriously undermine efforts to replace the substantial
         For higher value logistics and distribution sites, there are a lack of large,   industrial job losses of the past ten years.
          high quality sites with good access to the motorway network (despite
                                                                                          Key Actions
          close proximity);
         For the business services sector, the town centre has a limited high            5.7       The above analysis has lead to the development of a number of actions
          quality office products to help stimulate demand, combined with an              and priorities to be progressed by the Council and partners over the coming years
          absence of high quality out of town business parks; and                         with regards to delivering the required economic infrastructure to support economic
                                                                                          stabilisation, growth and sectoral development. These are summarised below:
         For the creative, digital and cultural industries there is a lack of critical
          mass of activity to stimulate innovation and there is a shortage of flexible,   1. Refreshing the Vision and Approach to Darlaston and Gigaport
          smaller incubation space for some smaller niche service sector activity.
          Gigaport has faced funding and ownership issues and is not far enough           A review of the plans for Darlaston and Gigaport reveals a number of costly
          advanced to filled the gap.                                                     constraints to delivery including ownership, contamination and access. The
                                                                                          changing economic and funding climate, particularly the reduction in likely future
5.3      The emerging Joint Core Strategy includes a spatial strategy which is            public sector funding to remove such constraints, means that a refreshed and
focused on the development of and investment in a growth network of strategic             shared vision and approach to these two sites amongst partners is required.
centres and regeneration corridors, and the delivery of office based                      Darlaston is important to efforts to stabilise the industrial base and support those
accommodation in Walsall town centre. It also plans for a major increase in high          companies which wish to relocate locally, a number of which require larger
quality employment land, but a reduction in overall employment land stock due to          premises. The digital driver which under-pinned the original Gigaport has changed
the release for housing of a large amount of local quality employment land.               and a major refresh to reflect recent developments would help to re-energise
                                                                                          efforts to make further progress.
5.4     There is a danger that, given the constraints associated with some of the
major sites and the state of the current market, these targets for quality


                                                                                                                                                                 16
                                                     Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

2. Integrating a revised Gigaport into a Vision and Plan for Walsall Town                        Delivering small incubation units or managed workspaces in bite sized
Centre                                                                                            chunks at a variety of locations across the borough, in particular the town
                                                                                                  centre;
Walsall Town Centre is one of the Boroughs most important assets, in spite of
concerns that it is losing out to other retail and commercial centres. There is a                Examining the role of the District Centres as employment hubs for
need for a vision and masterplan to guide the regeneration of the Town as a retail,               service sector growth.
commercial and business centre, taking account of Gigaport and the Waterfront.
                                                                                        4. Exploring New Approaches to Funding
The Waterfront Development, Art Gallery, opening of the College and the new
supermarket are major new investments in the Town Centre. There is a need to            The extent of the costs involved with taking forward ambitions for Gigaport and
build on these through an agreed plan which sets out the long term functions of         Darlaston (and even the less costly interventions detailed in point 3 above) are
each part of the town centre taking account of the day time and evening economy,        difficult to fund in the current economic climate. The ability of the public sector to
the role of further and higher education and the potential to develop an attractive     pump prime investment and remove the constraints to deliver and address market
office quarter which supports the growth of the service sector economy.                 failure will be more limited with the abolition of the RDAs, reduced budgets for the
                                                                                        HCA and the pressures on Council budgets. This means that both new and more
3. Developing A Third, Private Sector Led Growth Centre                                 creative ways of funding economic infrastructure are required. A key priority is to
                                                                                        explore potential new funding approaches, including the Regional Growth Fund,
There is a strong rationale for developing a third major growth centre to secure        Tax Increment Financing, JESSICA, European Funding or Local Asset Backed
new private sector led development in the next three to five years, while plans for     Vehicles. These are summarised in annex 1. It is recognised that some of these
the Town Centre and Darlaston are developed. Although recognising that there is         are already being discussed at a Black Country level. Having clarity on the
not currently a large number of readily available sites in Birchills, over time there   priorities, rationale, link to private sector job creation and evidence of private sector
may be the potential to reconfigure some of the declining industrial areas in this      support and involvement in the use of such funds in Walsall is a key priority.
area and elsewhere close to the M6 toll road. An emphasis on distribution and
logistics to the north of the borough, which neither Darlaston or the Town Centre       5. Ensuring Adequate Supporting Infrastructure is in Place
are focusing, would widen the Walsall offer and provide more immediate and
additional inward investment priorities.                                                In addition to sites and premises, there are a series of other economic
                                                                                        infrastructure priorities and interventions required to support sectoral development
4. Supporting the Infrastructure Requirements of Existing Businesses                    in the fields of housing, education, connectivity and waste. These include:
With the lack of likely inward investment and minimal available public or private               Developing and delivering a plan for the town centre which ensures better
sector funding, it is unlikely that major development activity will occur in Walsall             connectivity between key assets, for instance the College and core of the
over the short term. It is therefore paramount that the needs of existing businesses             town centre; improves the environment, appearance and image of the
are met to ensure their ongoing presence in the borough and the stabilisation of                 town centre; and increases the quality of supporting services available to
the local economy. The business survey has revealed that a number of existing                    potential office based town centre businesses;
businesses face issues with respect to the size and quality of business premises.
An early action is for the Council to work closely with these companies to ensure               Delivering a higher quality and better mix of housing to attract and retain
that their ongoing needs are met either at their current location or elsewhere within            working families and younger skilled workers;
the borough.                                                                                    Developing a greater understanding of the issues associated with the
Given the complexities associated with major flagship sites such as Darlaston and                current waste management and recycling facilities in the Borough and the
Gigaport, their long term nature and the immediate need to stimulate private sector              waste infrastructure needs of the economy, as well as addressing known
investment and job creation in the short term, more straightforward development                  gaps in waste infrastructure provision;
opportunities should also be considered. These could include:                                   Addressing internal transport infrastructure and localised access and
         Providing a greater focus on upgrading existing industrial sites,                      connection issues to overcome transport and connectivity constraints to
          particularly those more successful sites with land available in areas such             the delivery of sustainable economic growth in Walsall.
          as Aldridge where there is evidence of demand;


                                                                                                                                                                    17
                                                    Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

                                                                                       order to make the repayments on these loans. Therefore the TIFs have to work
Annex 1                                                                                through best and worst case scenarios for these developments in terms of
New Approaches to Infrastructure Funding                                               generating business rates, whilst taking into account deductions for possible
                                                                                       displacement factors. They are unlikely to be suitable for all types of development,
                                                                                       and are designed to be used in the UK context on major strategic infrastructure
5.8      An action proposed within the conslusions incvolved increasing the
                                                                                       schemes at a scale which would not be picked up by a developer, with a direct link
resources available to advance developments such as Gigaport and Darlaston.
                                                                                       to the delivery of economic transformation. The focus is on strategic enabling
There are a number of new approaches - Tax Incremental Financing, JESSICA,
                                                                                       schemes, not kick start type projects.
Local Asset/Incentive Backed Vehicles - which are being promoted to take forward
such commercial, mixed use and industrial development (some of which are under         5.12      JESSICA has been developed by the European Commission and the
active consideration by Black Country partners):                                       European Investment Bank in collaboration with the Council of Europe
                                                                                       Development Bank. It allows member states to use ERDF as loans, by supporting
       Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) is an innovative approach to
                                                                                       projects that will guarantee a return on the original investment. The return that the
        development, allowing the public sector to borrow against future income
                                                                                       investment generates can then be re-invested in other projects, helping to maintain
        from development. The risk, however, remains with the public sector and
                                                                                       the sustainability of the fund. JESSICA is primarily intended for use in urban
        TIF proposals are likely to be limited to lower risk developments.
                                                                                       regeneration and infrastructure projects as these are most likely to generate a
       JESSICA is a European Commission backed approach which allows                  return on the original investment. It has been primarily developed as a response to
        ERDF, other public sector funding and EIB loans to take forward new            the potential ending of European Funding in 2013 for the wealthier countries in the
        development opportunities and re-invest funds. JESSICA models are able         EC.
        to attract other private sector funding, although a commercial return is the
                                                                                       5.13     The North West Urban Investment Fund was launched in 2009. It has
        imperative.
                                                                                       used the freedom allowed by JESSICA to pool £50m of ERDF and £50m of NWDA
       Local Asset Based Vehicle/Investment Vehicle (LABV) primarily uses             funding to create a £100m loan fund. The NWDA will create two Urban
        land assets to work with investor partners to bring forward new                Development Funds (UDFs), one in Merseyside and another for the rest of the
        investment. These include housing and mixed used development where             North West. At the time of writing, a consortium (named Evergreen) led by
        risk and reward are shared.                                                    Manchester City Council and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities
                                                                                       has been selected as preferred bidder to establish the North West UDF. It will
5.9       Tax Incremental Financing is a model of local investment used in the US      receive £20m in ERDF funds and £10m from NWDA, with other public bodies
for the past 50 years. It allows local authorities to invest substantially in          providing match funding of £30m. It has secured £50m from the Greater
infrastructure, borrowing on the basis of the additional business rates raised         Manchester Pension Fund and an undisclosed amount from the Lancashire
through the new investment, taking displacement into account.                          Pension Fund and is in talks with private sector lenders to further add to the
5.10      The Scottish Futures Trust and the Scottish Government are reviewing a       funding pool. In Merseyside, the consortium that is the preferred bidder has yet to
further revision of the £84m TIF proposal for the regeneration at the Leith            be formally confirmed by the EIB.
Waterfront put forward by Edinburgh City Council. This TIF will accelerate the         5.14     Asset Backed Vehicles have been used at the regional level in England,
regeneration and development of the waterfront, bringing a new focus for               for example in the North East and East Midlands. British Waterways has also
Edinburgh as it continues to embrace and take advantage of a waterfront position.      established one (ISIS) to unlock regeneration opportunities on its own sites3. Co-
The Council will borrow the capital investment required, including the purchase of     sponsored by Regional Development Agencies and English Partnerships, they do
key sites from Forth Ports plc. This will be paid back through the additional          not have any funding attached to them per se and are used at geographical levels
business rates raised in the TIF zone over a period of 20 years. A requirement of
TIF is for the local council to be the owner of the asset being developed.
5.11     TIFS are new to the UK and none are yet operational, although they are a      3
                                                                                         Centre for Cities (2007), “City Solutions: Delivering Local Growth: Local Asset-Backed
very successful model in many cities in the United States. TIFs are dependent on       Vehicles” and Regeneration and Renewal (6th July 2009), “Slump spawns new renewal
the stream of business rates generated from the capital investment borrowed, in        vehicle”




                                                                                                                                                                       18
                                                       Walsall Sector Analysis Study – Economic Infrastructure Paper

below the sub-region. There is potential for local authorities to use the concept at
the local level to unlock development sites.
5.15      These vehicles work as follows: Initially, a local authority would identify a
number of development sites and regeneration projects that could be packaged
together. For the LABV to work, it must have an attractive offer to interest private
sector investors. To make the package of assets more attractive, they are placed
into the LABV (which has its own governance structure), and the portfolio
circulated to potential investors. These investors then bid for the portfolio. Private
investors bring finance and expertise to the projects, helping them to generate a
return for both private and public sectors.
5.16     The economic recession has made the private sector more risk averse,
with the public sector reluctant to sell assets at what is the bottom of the market for
land values. To get around both of these issues, Local Incentive Backed Vehicles
have been created. Based on the LABV model, they do not however require the
local authority to transfer its assets into the Vehicle at the outset, nor does the
private sector have to finance it immediately. Instead, both parties agree to a
series of options for the portfolio, which can be exercised once the conditions for
the options are satisfied. It may, for example, mean that the market value of the
development has to rise to a certain level before the private sector partner is
obliged to complete the sale. The LIBV reduces the risk for the private sector and
ensures that the public sector can realise a fairer price for its assets. The model
has been used in Exeter to deliver the SkyPark business park.




                                                                                                                       19

								
To top