It has been two years since the UK government promised to ‘level up every part of the UK’. But since then, policymakers have found themselves preoccupied with efforts to limit the impacts of the global pandemic. But we can’t afford to wait and so Legal & General has pledged £4 billion for urban regeneration and the construction of new homes in the West Midlands
In partnership with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) – a body including 18 local councils and three Local Enterprise Partnerships – we will be supporting its focus on levelling up, achieving net zero, brownfield regeneration, affordable housing and inclusive growth. Our first scheme will be the development of 234 energy-efficient new homes at The Junction, a brownfield site in Oldbury which has been empty for more than 20 years. Nearly 50% of these homes will be affordable under the WMCA’s local definition.
In addition to new commercial development our agreement with WMCA envisages a major contribution by Legal & General to climate-friendly projects, local communities, and social and affordable housing. It will support the region’s target of delivering 215,000 homes by 2031, as set out in its ground-breaking Housing Deal with Government.
This new partnership with WMCA will support the ongoing efforts to bring the region together to build a healthier, happier, better connected and more prosperous West Midlands.
L&G’s Director of Levelling Up, John Godfrey, adds: “Towns, cities and regions across the UK can do much, much better – this is the essence of the levelling up agenda. This framework agreement with the West Midlands enables political will to combine with financial resource so policy intentions become deliverable realities. We fully expect this to be an exemplar of what can be achieved with the right mix of devolution and determination.”
This deal follows several years in which our involvement in the development and regeneration of region has grown rapidly. In 2017 we funded Birmingham’s Arena Central development, which now houses government services, including the Midlands regional hub for HM Revenue and Customs. In the same year we started construction on 600 new homes in the city’s jewellery quarter as well as retail, leisure and office space that will create 12,000 new jobs.
In 2018, we launched Bruntwood SciTech, which went on to develop innovation hubs in the West Midlands, including the Birmingham Health Innovation Campus. And in 2020 we provided £100 million in deferred long-term financing for Bromford Housing Group, the region’s largest provider of affordable homes, to support its goals of delivering 12,000 properties by 2028.
Our investment in the region is just part of our strategy of supporting the levelling up of the UK. As the country’s largest investor, we manage £1.4 trillion, and we have already invested more than £30 billion in regenerating towns and cities such as Cardiff, Newcastle, Sunderland, Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds, and Oxford. In each case we have worked closely with local authorities, organisations and communities to make sure we meet the specific needs of the local area.
We’ve invested £475 million in the regeneration of Cardiff Central Square, the largest privately funded development in Wales, which once complete will create 13,000 jobs. The work includes more than 300 new apartments for rent and 100,000 square feet of office space. And we’ve invested £65 million in Newcastle Helix, a new science, technology and office park on the site of the former Newcastle Brown Ale brewery.
In Sheffield we’re working closely with local development partner Urbo and the city council on the redevelopment of the West Bar area, which had declined since the industrial era. And we’ve invested a further £100 million in the regeneration of Sunderland.
Our £4 billion partnership with Oxford University will help retain talent in the city and provide facilities for world-leading research and innovation. We will provide thousands of new homes for staff, students, and key workers, incubator space for small businesses and academic facilities. We recently announced that 84 new homes in Iffley would be our first residential development under the partnership.
This is an exemplar of what can be achieved with the right mix of devolution and determination.
Our new agreement with WMCA is our first with a combined authority. WMCA brings together 18 local councils and three Local Enterprise Partnerships. It is investing billions of pounds to improve the region’s transport network, transform derelict industrial land, support businesses and to help grow the innovative green businesses of the future.
Sir Nigel Wilson, CEO of Legal & General, explains: “We have been investing across the UK in partnership with cities and universities for a decade. It’s part of our inclusive capitalism approach and has delivered terrific economic and social results.
He adds: “The West Midlands economic plan, resources and skills make it an attractive destination for trade and investment from across the world; our role in this is to put UK funds including pension savings to work here so UK savers benefit from UK prosperity.”